Archive for April 2012

A Tree as a Lesson

As I was walking down the street the other day, I walked past an alleyway that caught my eye. Smack dab in the middle of the alley was a super tall tree.

I had never seen anything like this before and it made me think, I know there’s a lesson to be learned here, so how can that relate to life? One of the striking things about this tree is that it stands at least 4 stories tall and is beautiful. So clearly someone had to make the decision about whether to chop down that tree or figure out a way to keep it even though it would block the passage.

Another striking thing about this tree is just that. Its position puts it in a perfect place to be struck by a car. The solution chosen is straightforward, a few reflectors on it and the simple assumption that a tree this size would be hard to miss seeing.

How many times have you encountered something in your life that was seemingly an obstacle? How many times have you had trouble removing something from your life that you enjoy? Perhaps you like to play golf, but your knees hurt when you do. Perhaps you want to eat out, but your digestive system is too sensitive. Perhaps you want to play with your kids, but you’re too tired.

Just because an activity is a challenge to you now doesn’t mean you necessarily have to remove it from your life. Are there simple changes that you could make that would allow you to keep those aspects of your life? Look to the basics first. Are you sleeping long enough and deeply enough? Are you getting regular exercise in some form? Are you eating healthy? Are you finding the fun in your life?

If you are still stuck, consider getting help. Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at the whole you and provides your body with the tools to heal itself.

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Winning at Joint Health

One of the top reasons why people come to see me is for problems with one (or more) or their joints. Joints that are swollen. Joints that hurt. Joints that don’t move properly. Or for prevention of any of the above for someone who is active and would like to stay that way.

Most of us think of the knees, elbows, hips, shoulders, wrists, and ankles when we think about joints. But think, as well, of all the little joints in your fingers and toes (phalangeal joints) and your hands and feet (the metacarpals and metatarsals); the joints between every vertebrae along your spine; the joints of your jaw (temporomandibular joint—TMJ), and even those of your skull.

These joints work hard!

Like every hard working organism, they are not alone. They have support. Perhaps it’s just because the hockey playoffs are on now and I have sports on the brain, I’m going to use sport as an analogy.

The game can be called Kinesiology. My initial degree was Kinesiology, the study of human movement. The aim of the game is to move when called to action and stabilize when called to stop. Movement occurs at the joints and the team members are bones, cartilage, bursa, menisci, synonvial joint fluid, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Each of these team members has a role to play.

Bones, whether flat, long, or irregularly shaped, end at least one side in a joint. Cartilage, and bursa help buffer friction and impact. Synovial joint fluid also helps with these roles as well as with lubricating the joint. Ligaments help prevent too much movement of the joint that would otherwise result in injury. Tendons and muscles move the joints. When one of these teammates has a problem, the joint has a problem.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, each of these players is connected to an organ system. Kidneys regulate the bones and cartilage. Liver rules the tendons and ligaments. Spleen controls the muscles.

You might think of these organ systems as the coaches. High level teams often have more than one coach! Even these coaches do not function on their own. There are other organ systems that must function properly in order for them to do their job, just as a general manager, owner, and fans will impact the coaches.

So you can see that joint health is incredibly complex. Traditional Chinese Medicine considers this complexity and addresses the joint itself as well as all the players and participants that allow the joint to function properly. We do so by making a proper assessment and then using acupuncture, Chinese herbs, supplements, and other modalities to treat the individual, not just the “problem” joint(s). You win when you can move without pain and restriction!

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