Sometimes, the best way for an acupuncturist to learn her art is through direct experience. I recently discovered a whole new way to treat sciatica (back pain) from Dr. Michael Chung, who teaches the MASTER TUNG Extraordinary Acupuncture System. I had travelled from Mont-Tremblant to attend Dr Chung’s popular workshop in Montreal. It so happened that I was suffering from acute sciatica the morning he introduced the topic of how to treat this condition.
The definition of Sciatica
Sciatica is a set of symptoms including pain caused by general compression or irritation of one of the spinal nerve roots of each sciatic nerve or by compression or irritation of the left or right or both sciatic nerves. Symptoms include lower back pain, buttock pain, and numbness, pain or weakness in various parts of the leg and foot. Other symptoms include a “pins and needles” sensation, or tingling and difficulty moving or controlling the leg. Typically, symptoms only manifest on one side of the body. The pain may radiate above the knee, but does not always.
Of course I quickly limped my way over to the treatment table the moment he asked for a volunteer with sciatica! I explained to the class of acupuncturists that I had injured myself while dashing across the street the evening before. The pain was situated near my right sacroiliac joint and ran through the right buttock and down the side of the right leg . The pain grew in intensity through the night but, because I was staying away from home that night, I had no needles handy with which to treat myself myself in the meantime. The next morning I could hardly walk and I was glad to have been given the chance to get treatment from this master acupuncturist.
Before learning Master Tung System, I might have treated this sciatica by using 1 local point (near area of pain) with a few other points along the right leg and foot. With the Tung System, the treatments are usually only distal points, (away from the area of pain).
In fact, my treatment consisted of a point called BiYi, which is found at the end of the nostril crease.
There were two more in my right foot. Another two points were used on my left hand. These are the famous Ling Gu and Da Bai acupuncture points that often work together for various conditions, including sciatica.
After a few minutes, I realized most of the pain had disappeared and I felt a warm, relaxing sensation along the sacro-iliaq region. Dr Chung asked me to walk around and test the treatment and after a minute or so, I declared that most of the pain was gone. Normally, the needles are retained for another 30 minutes or so, but because this was a learning situation, all the needles except Bi Yi were soon removed and I returned to my seat, feeling much better and eager to learn more about this very effective technique. The next day, my sciatic pain completely disappeared and Dr. Chung suggested I maintain the good result with a self treatment using Bi Yi a few more times in the days to come.
Using Master Tung Points in my Clinic
Having felt the almost instant benefits of the Master Tung Acupuncture System, I think I have become quite obsessed with using it to help my patients! In fact, since adopting this technique, my success rate for pain management in my Mont-Tremblant clinic has soared.
The Tung Advantage
The advantage to using the Tung system is that
1). there are few needles required compared to the amount of needles used when treating with TCM system points. This makes it easier on the patient and quicker for the acupuncturist.
2) The points used are at a distance from where the pain is experienced. This system eliminates the possibility of increasing the patient’s pain through local needling. (i.e. placing the needles directly in the painful area).
3) The improvement can often be immediate.
Here’s a quick case study I’d like to share with you. It illustrates how useful Tung acupuncture can be – even with chronic pain.
Patient, male, 46 yrs, heavy labourer.
Bi-lateral low back pain situated on the sacroiliac joints since 4 years. Worse on left side. Constant and intense pain that increased with lifting and change of position after having rested. Patient could only achieve 45 degree forward flexion from the waist before his pain increased to maximum level.
Treatment using Master Tung system dissolved pain after 1 minute. Testing after a 40 minute treatment revealed ease of movement and patient was able to flex forward to comfortably touch his toes .