Clinical Services

The effective treatment of chronic pain requires a multidisciplinary approach.  Below are descriptions of some of the services you may receive or request as part of your treatment.

  1. Acupuncture for Chronic Pain:  This is a specific acupuncture approach that is gentle, uses fewer needles, and is focused on calming down the nervous system as a way to reduce the experience of pain.  It works by 1) blocking or disrupting pain signals, 2) releasing endorphins in the brain to improve mood, 3) increasing the circulation of blood and lymph, and 4) reducing the brain chemicals associated with stress and tension.  Most people consider this a very pleasant type of acupuncture and sometimes feel very calm and bit drowsy during and after the treatment.  The negative side effects are minimal if applied correctly with minor bruising being the most reported adverse side effect of treatment. 
  2. Acupuncture for Orthopedic Conditions:  This is a more aggressive acupuncture approach that identifies specific muscles or tendons that are not working appropriately and uses deeper needling and sometimes electrical stimulation to release the contracted or spasmed muscle.  This is often used along with physical rehabilitation to restore strength and flexibility to a stiff or painful joint that has not been moving correctly.  This style of acupuncture is not suitable for some people who have a lot of pain sensitivity.  It is usually used on athletes or on chronic pain patients where the sensitivity of the peripheral nerves or the hypersensitivity of the brain control centers are not as much of a factor as before.  While this type of treatment is more intensive, the discomfort is still minimal and the feeling is similar to a deep tissue massage.
  3. Alpha Wave Cranial Stimulation Therapy:  This is a form of mild trans-cranial electrical stimulation where small electrodes are clipped onto the earlobes and send micro-current signals to the brain via the vagus and facial nerves.  The point of this treatment is to create a state of deep relaxation and peace that is associated with the alpha brain waves.  Most people find this treatment very calming and relaxing, especially in conjunction with acupuncture.  The side effects include 1) mild dizziness and nausea (if the settings are too high), 2) a slight tingling on the earlobes during treatment and 3) drowsiness during and for a few minutes after treatment.  Most treatments last 15-60 minutes depending on the goal.  
  4. Cognitive-Behavioral Approach to Goal Setting:  This one of the most studied and used approaches for pain self-management by the Mayo Clinic and other comprehensive pain rehabilitation programs.  We use the SMART goals method to identify lifestyle habits or other factors that may be contributing to your pain.  We then help you to design a strategy that will support you in making the changes necessary to effectively reduce your pain and meet your larger life goals.  For an example you can check out the free Online Pain Program on this website.
  5. Functional Mobility Training:  This is similar to physical therapy but different in a very important way.  Physical therapy often focuses on increasing the strength and flexibility of specific areas of the body.  While this is a good approach for specific musculoskeletal imbalances, it is sometimes painful and not productive for people with chronic pain.  Mobility training teaches and encourages you to slowly and gently improve the movement of many parts of the body at the same time, slowing increasing your abilities over time.  The goal is to slowly and gradually improve how you move so you can do normal activities like walking, getting out of bed, washing the dishes or even sitting at dinner more comfortably.  For examples of mobility exercises you can visit the mobility page of the free online training program on this site.   
  6. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction:  This is a combination of different techniques used to help you calm the mind, reduce tension in the body, reduce stress and improve your quality of sleep.  Research has shown that mindfulness-based stress reduction is one of the most powerful self management tools to reduce pain, improve sleep and reduce stress.  One of the reasons they are so powerful is because they do not need a prescription or any expensive equipment or drugs to do them.  After a few sessions of coaching you will be able to do them anytime and anywhere.  For people who practice these techniques, there is demonstrated changes to the brain in the areas for stress and pain where these areas actually become less active and smaller over time.  Some of these techniques include:
    1. Abdominal (diaphragmatic) breathing
    2. Mindfulness meditation
    3. Progressive Muscle Relaxation 
    4. Visualization
    5. Biofeedback
    6. Tai Chi 
    7. Yoga
  7. Nutrition Counseling:  Believe it or not, many people in the United States are suffering from mild to moderate nutrient deficiencies for common nutrients like: B vitamins, Vitamin D3, Vitamin K, Folate, Zinc, Iron and many others.  Studies have shown that a deficiency in one or more of these nutrients alone can cause pain in your body.  Many people that have chronic pain also suffer from these nutrient deficiencies which can be contributing to the pain, the fatigue, anxiety, poor sleep and low energy. To make it worse, while much of the US population is suffering from these deficiencies, we are eating too much sugar, fried foods, trans-fatty acids, alcohol and caffeinated beverages.  An overuse of these alone can also result in chronic pain.  The goal of nutrition counseling is not to take away all your favorite foods and have you eating only broccoli.  The goal is to help you make effective changes to your diet over time that will address these nutrient imbalances so you can improve your energy, reduce your fatigue and anxiety, and reduce your pain.  We will use the SMART goals approach to identifying specific things you can easily incorporate into your diet to help you make these changes.  For an example of a diet program check out the Nutrition module of the free Online Pain Reduction Program on this site.  Nutrition is really one of the most difficult things to change because there are so many factors that affect a person's diet and nutrition including:
    1. Genetics
    2. Income and access to good quality food
    3. Hard to break habits
    4. The eating habits and preferences of the people we live with
    5. Cultural food values
    6. Education about what is good, what is not good and how much to eat of each