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9 Scotts Road #12-01 Scotts Medical Center
228210
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Internationally trained physiotherapists skilled in Physiotherapy Singapore. We offer effective treatments for Back, Neck, Knee, Shoulder Pains at our clinic. 

Articles

TCM for Menopause

Matt Winter

When we talk about menopause, it generally refers to a stage in life when a lady stops having her monthly period. This is due to the ovaries have reduced the production of sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone and no longer release eggs. A woman is said to have had menopause after her periods stop for 12 consecutive months. Natural menopause occurs in a woman’s late forties to early fifties. This is a normal part of ageing and marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. 

Menopause is suppose to be a natural transitional period in a woman’s life and not pathology. However as our society has entered into a stage where most foods are injected with hormones to boom production, abuse of chemical treatments and stress has been prevalent in all walks of life, more and more women are experiencing early menopause or premature menopause, some as early as in their thirties. Unless you are planning for a baby, early menopause just simply means that one can no longer conceive but it is more of the discomfort and noticeable symptoms/conditions associated with menopause that makes the quality of life for menopausing women drop. 

The symptoms/conditions include (1) vasomotor symptoms (hot flushes and night sweats); (2) genital atrophy (vaginal dryness and irritation, painful sexual intercourse, reduced libido, urinary tract infections, urinary urgency, and stress incontinence); (3) increased bone loss/osteoporosis (lower back and knee pains or weakness and increased risk of fracture); (4) psychological symptoms (depression, irritability, anxiety, mood swings, panic attacks); (5) cognitive disturbances (forgetfulness and diminished concentration); (6) others (palpitations, insomnia/sleep disturbances, headaches, fatigue, skin itching, dizziness, blurred vision, tinnitus, digestive problems, hair loss, body image change, and increased risk of coronary artery disease). These symptoms do not come all at once, and may last for hours, weeks or even years in some cases.

Because of that, some women have turned to medical intervention to manage menopause. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the most commonly prescribed medicine in western medical practice.Unfortunately, despite its widely accepted benefits, the use of HRT has many potential health risks, including increased risk of breast, endometrial, ovarian cancer; increased risk of gallbladder disease; increased risk of thromboembolitic disease, and even dementia (age 65 and older). 

Thus more women in the last decade have turned to holistic alternative therapies such as traditional Chinese Medicine to help with their menopausal symptoms. In fact, treatments of menopause and related conditions with TCM can be traced back to over two thousand years ago. Here, I will like to present to you modern clinical and experimental researches that have demonstrated that acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are effective in relieving the menopausal symptoms and providing a safe and effective way to gracefully go through a stress-free menopause. 

Acupuncture

Hot flushes

Acupuncture can lessen the frequency and severity of hot flushes in women with natural menopause and women being treated with tamoxifen, a drug commonly used as part of the treatment for breast cancer which often causes menopausal symptoms due to its anti-oestrogenic effects1,2. In a pilot study, fifteen patients were enrolled to evaluate the safety and efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of menopausal symptoms in tamoxifen-treated patients. It was reported that vasomotor, anxiety, depression and somatic symptoms were improved after acupuncture treatment; but libido did not change. No side effects were reported. The authors concluded that acupuncture seems to be safe and effective for the treatment of menopausal symptoms in women with previous breast cancer taking tamoxifen 2.

Sleep disturbances

Acupuncture has also been reported as an effective non-hormonal relief of sleep disturbances 3.

Weight management

When obese peri- and postmenopausal women were treated with acupuncture and low calorie diet, a significantly decreased mean body weight and body mass index (BMI) was demonstrated during the six-week treatment period, indicating that acupuncture is a useful additional healing method in the treatment of menopausal obesity 4. 

Herbal Chinese Medicine

Clinical and experimental research studies have demonstrated that Chinese herbal medicine has remarkable effects in alleviating hot flushes, vasomotor instability, profuse sweating, sleep disturbances, depressive moods, and other conditions associated with menopause with good therapeutic efficacy and tolerability profiles 5.

Herbal medicine has been reported to treat menopausal women in many other aspects. In a recent study, 24 HRT- resistant menopausal depressive women were recruited and treated with herbal medicine in conjunction with hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Improvement of menopausal depressive symptoms was reported after three months’ treatment and the beneficial effects continued with extended use of the herbal remedy. No side effects were reported. The results indicate that herbal medicine can be used as an adjunctive therapy in the management of HRT-resistant menopausal depressive women 6.


1 Wyon Y, et al. Acupuncture against climacteric disorders? Lower number of symptoms after menopause. Lakartidningen 1994;91(23):2318-22.

2 Porzio G, et al. Acupuncture in the treatment of menopause-related symptoms in women taking tamoxifen. Tumori 2002;88(2):128-30.

3 Cohen SM, et al. Can acupuncture ease the symptoms of menopause? Holist Nurs Pract 2003;17(6):295-9.

4 Wozniak P, et al. The effectiveness of low-calorie diet or diet with acupuncture treatment in obese peri- and postmenopausal women. Ginekologia Polska 2003;74(2):102-7.

5 Liske E. Therapeutic efficacy and safety of Cimicifuga racemosa for gynecologic disorders. [Review]. Advances in Therapy 1998;15(1):45-53.

6 Koike K, et al. Efficacy of the herbal medicine Unkei-to as an adjunctive treatment to hormone replacement therapy for postmenopausal women with depressive symptoms. Clinical Neuropharmacology 2004;27(4):157-62.

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Dr Lim Xiang Jun is registered Dr of Traditional Chinese Medicine Physician whom first completed her BSc(hons) in Biomedical Sciences in Singapore before completing a BSc in Chinese Medicine, MSc and PHD in Acupuncture in Beijing. She is also qualified in Yoga and is a certified Ayurveda Practitioner.

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How to choose the Right TCM/Acupuncturist -- Integrity a consideration?

Matt Winter

Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM is one of the oldest form of medicine, dating back more than 2500 years. It is considered the Medical part in the Five Arts in Chinese Metaphysics, whereby the Five Arts include Mountain (Qigong); Medical(TCM); Divination; Destiny; Physiognomy.

In TCM, it contains ancient methods that some are even lost or unheard of in this modern era. These methods are used by Emperors, Empresses, Imperials of multiple dynasties to heal and treat illnesses which may be deemed terminal in today’s medical world, maintain health and even to the extent of working against the toil of time on the physical body, in other words: anti aging. One of the methods that are still in existence today is acupuncture. Practised by many, one may then question, how do I choose a practitioner? What is the difference with being sticked with needles by a practitioner for hundreds over dollars a session and another at a highly discounted fee as seen in promotions and roadshows?

Simple as it looks, the needling of acupuncture administered by different practitioners boils down to the years of practise, level of mastery skills, intellectual analytical abilities and most importantly integrity of the person administering.  You may be agreeable to the first few points in terms of time, effort, intelligence of the practitioner but integrity? 

In Chinese, integrity can be translated as “正气”, which also means righteous energy or positive energy. In acupuncture, it is a treatment modality that deals a lot not just with the physical muscles, nerves, glandular systems but also the energetic aspects in the body. Yes, even scientists have recognised that everything in the Universe is made out of energy, which includes us and the human body. Quantum physicists1 discovered that physical atoms are made up of vortices of energy that are constantly spinning and vibrating, each one radiating its own unique energy signature. Therefore, if we really want to observe ourselves and find out what we are, we are really beings of energy and vibration, radiating our own unique energy signature -this is fact.

Hence when a practitioner administer acupuncture on a patient, he/she need to be positive enough and possess the strong smooth flow of energy in order to remove energetic blockages in the patients that are causing them pain or discomfort and manifesting as illnesses in their body, at the same time reenergising the body with positivity as well. This positive energy comes from cultivations, morally or even spiritually, and years of it. That’s the differentiation amongst practitioners. And the reason for the difference in monetary value you put in for the positivity you are receiving from the years of cultivation of the acupuncturist both in practice and as a person. 

Here we can see the specificity and customisation of TCM and acupuncture for the patients and the choice of practitioner. Hence it is advisable to check the background of the practitioner first before embarking on treatments with him/her and it is definitely not advisable to skip around practitioners once you have found the ‘right one’.

1 T. Folger, “Quantum Shmantum”; Discover 22:37-43, 2001

Dr Lim Xiang Jun is registered Dr of Traditional Chinese Medicine Physician whom first completed her BSc(hons) in Biomedical Sciences in Singapore before completing a BSc in Chinese Medicine, MSc and PHD in Acupuncture in Beijing. She is also qualified in Yoga and is a certified Ayurveda Practitioner.

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How Acupuncture works - From a Scientific Perspective

Matt Winter

Simply put, the insertion of thin needles into acupoints in the body, which are neurovascular nodes that contain a high concentration of sensory fibers, blood vessels, lymphatic vessels and mast cells, will promote blood flow that will bring everything the body that needs to heal such as oxygen, nutrients, immune substances, hormones, painkillers and anti inflammatories to the area of lesion, hence reducing inflammation at that area; 


Inserting a needle sends a signal through the nervous system to the brain, where chemicals such as endorphins, norepinephrine and enkephalin are released, thus relieving pain


Acupuncture stimulates the body’s built-in healing mechanisms, restoring homeostasis to bodily systems such as the immune, neurological, gastrointestinal and endocrine systems.


All illnesses will involve a certain degree of inflammation, pain and imbalance in the organ systems. Hence acupuncture can heal through these 3 pathways, and ultimately bring balance back to the entire human body, be it physically or psychologically. 

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Dr Lim Xiang Jun is registered Dr of Traditional Chinese Medicine Physician whom first completed her BSc(hons) in Biomedical Sciences in Singapore before completing a BSc in Chinese Medicine, MSc and PHD in Acupuncture in Beijing. She is also qualified in Yoga and is a certified Ayurveda Practitioner.



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Traditional Chinese Medicine Remedies for Bloatedness & Digestive Health

Matt Winter

One of the common complaints that I have come across in my clinical experiences as a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) physician treating patients are bloating in the stomach occurring mostly after eating. To understand why this occurs, we need to have a simple understanding of the digestive system physiology according to TCM theories. The Spleen and Stomach are the two primary organs for digestion. The Stomach is like the woodman who chops up firewood, accepting the food (which in this case is the firewood) as it comes in and chopping it, organizing it and making it ready for the fire (which is the Spleen)  to burn up. As the Spleen begins to burn the firewood sent over by the Stomach, heat and steam arises from the fireplace. The heat and steam is the Qi, or vital energy, that is required for all other organs to function properly and for one to be energized. It is thus important to maintain a strong and healthy fire or I call it the digestive fire.

When this digestive fire is low or weak, any firewood introduced from the Stomach will not be able to be combusted entirely, hence food stagnation occurs with the partially digested food stuck in the digestive tract, fermenting and producing gases, causing bloatedness. 

In this case, bloatedness is but one of the many symptoms of poor digestive health. What we are more concern is that with this poor digestive health comes a whole chain of other related health issues such as lethargy, chronic fatigue syndrome (as little vital energy is being transformed from the food for distribution to the rest of the body) and weight gain problems. 

I hereby introduce some remedies from the TCM, Ayurveda and Yoga perspectives to deal with bloatedness and poor digestive health faced by modern women today. 

1. Take fennel seed-infused teas

According to TCM, fennel seed is warming in property and this property enters the Spleen and Stomach meridians. Hence it harmonizes the Stomach of any coldness and tonifies the Spleen qi, thereby increasing the digestive fire required for digestion. 

According to Ayurveda, fennel seeds act as a general toner for the digestive system, and is particularly good for enhancing Agni,the digestive fire, without aggravating Pitta. In India, eating a few toasted fennel seeds after a meal is a common practice, both to aid digestion and to freshen breath. 

2. Eat only cooked food

 According to both TCM and Ayurveda, raw and cold food extinguishes the digestive fire even further. Hence eating cooked food means the food is “pre-digested” before it enters the body. With that, the digestive fire does not have to work as hard to process and break the food down, lowering the chances of any undigested food and gases produced from the indigestion. 

3. Self massage Acupoint Zu San Li 

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The acupoint Zu San Li controls the work of the organs that are located in the lower half of the body. It controls the functions of the spinal cord in the parts that are responsible for proper functioning of the gastrointestinal tract, digestive tract, sexual organs, kidneys, adrenal glands. Therefore frequent self massage of this point can clear bloatedness and improve the functionings of the Spleen and Stomach. 

Location of this point: located about 3 inches or 4 finger widths down from the bottom of the knee cap, along the outer boundary of the shin bone. If located correctly, a muscle should pop out as the foot is moved up and down. 

4. Acupuncture and Cupping

TCM uses cupping to remove gases due to poor digestion from within the system by special techniques and stimulating certain points along the meridians of the stomach and large intestine. This causes bloating symptoms to dissipate. At the same time, acupuncture techniques can be used to strengthen the body's digestive fire and functioning of the Spleen and Stomach. 

4. Practise wind-releasing poses

As its name implies, Pawanmuktasana, or wind-releasing pose, helps to push out trapped air in the Stomach. 

To practice, lie on your back. Hug your right knee into your chest. Inhale deeply, then exhale and reach your knee toward your nose. Hold this position for a few seconds, then inhale and release.

Order is very important here—do the exercise 3 times on the right side first, and then 3 times on the left. This follows the natural movement of the colon so that you’re literally pushing gas out.

Lastly, hug both knees into the chest and hold for a few seconds. Repeat three times.

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Dr Lim Xiang Jun is registered Dr of Traditional Chinese Medicine Physician whom first completed her BSc(hons) in Biomedical Sciences in Singapore before completing a BSc in Chinese Medicine, MSc and PHD in Acupuncture in Beijing. She is also qualified in Yoga and is a certified Ayurveda Practitioner.

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TCM for Sleep Management

Matt Winter

Patients battling chronic insomnia can tell you that insufficient or poor quality sleep leads not only to irritability and exhaustion, but also to muscle stiffness, impaired cognitive function, fibromyalgia, and other significant health problems. Commonly, Western medicine will search for a physical or emotional problem causing the sleeplessness, but TCM recognizes that insomnia can stem from a fundamental imbalance of energy, or qi. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), sleep is part of the natural rhythm of yin and yang in the body. Yin and yang are opposites: When we sleep, yin is the dominant force in the body. In the day, when we are active, yang dominates. Insomnia is a sign of a disruption to one's natural rhythm of yin and yang.

While Western medicine sleeping pills and anti-depressants are commonly prescribed for insomnia and other sleep disorders, these prescriptions can become addictive and patients can find it difficult to sleep naturally, without pills or medicine in the future. Patients may find better relief through the natural based treatments of acupuncture and herbal remedies.

The pairing of acupuncture with herbal remedies can bring relief to patients with chronic insomnia, nightmares, and even sleep apnea. Clinical studies have shown that acupuncture helps release extra neurotransmitters into the central nervous system, including serotonin which regulates sleep patterns. As a result, acupuncture can be used to improve the quality of sleep without the sluggish side effects associated with most sleeping pills.

Case study: A patient, female, 45, came to me with complaints of difficulty in falling asleep and even when she does fall asleep, experiences lots of dreams. Also she has headaches, rising eye pressure, high blood pressure, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and a bitter sensation in the mouth. 

Upon TCM diagnosis, this is a typical example of liver qi stagnation leading to heat where anger or stress – which is associated with the liver – can affect the flow of qi in the liver. This qi stagnation will result in poor blood circulation to the heart, affecting sleep patterns. With qi stagnation, heat or “fire” accumulates in the liver, leading to symptoms affecting the upper body as seen above, as heat rises. 

In this case, acupuncture treatment and Chinese herbal medications are prescribed weekly to move the qi circulation and dissipate the heat accumulated in the liver. After the first few intensive treatments which are done twice a week, the patient commented that her headache has reduced, with some days not experiencing any headache episodes and that her ringing has stopped. After a course of 10 sessions of treatments and medications, she can fall into sleep better, with some days of fully uninterrupted sleep. She is currently still receiving treatments from me for maintenance of health and destress once every two weeks.  

To relieve stress and help us sleep better, you will want to stimulate San Yin Jiao (SP6) spot. It is one of the most commonly used points in acupuncture. To find this spot, place four fingers above your ankle on the inside of your leg, just behind the shin bone.  To massage this acupoint, press your thumb on it in a circular motion for 6 seconds. Release for 2 seconds. Continue to repeat this for 5 minutes and then switch legs. Do this everyday before bed to help you sleep. 

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Dr Lim Xiang Jun is registered Dr of Traditional Chinese Medicine Physician whom first completed her BSc(hons) in Biomedical Sciences in Singapore before completing a BSc in Chinese Medicine, MSc and PHD in Acupuncture in Beijing. She is also qualified in Yoga and is a certified Ayurveda Practitioner.


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Acupressure self-massage for prevention of white-collar occupational ailments

Matt Winter

Acupuncture is an ancient form of healing method in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that involves inserting needles into particular points on the body’s surface or acupoints. Scary as it may sound or look to some people, its effects are undeniably magical and fast but yet, scientific. In TCM terminology, acupuncture heals through stimulating acupoints found on the human body, clearing qi and blood stagnations in the meridians and at the same time, balancing the yin and yang of the body. Scientifically speaking, acupuncture relieves pain, reduces inflammation and restores homeostasis. In fact all diseases involve a disturbance of homeostasis, and nearly all diseases involve some degree of pain and inflammation. Therefore, one can say that acupuncture has the ability to treat all diseases and ailments faster and without the side effects of medications. Furthermore, acupuncture can be administered on a long term basis for health maintenance and disease prevention.  

Apart from needling, there are many other ways that can bring about stimulations of acupoints, such as using the thumb or index finger to press and massage the points or perform striking actions on the points, otherwise known as acupressure.  Modern medical studies have confirmed that such stimulations of acupoints can promote the body’s secretion of endorphins which is a natural tranquilizer in the human body, bringing about great sedation and relaxation effects.  Regular acupressure self-massage can effectively promote blood circulation and slow down the aging of cells, hence invigorating the body at the same time. 

Urban society white-collar workers are the elite pool of manpower but are also the ones that face more serious health issues. Reason being this group of workers spend long hours working in front of computers and are under immense daily work stress, making them more susceptible to occupational ailments such as cervical spondylosis, visual fatigue, chronic neck, back, wrist pains etc. As such, some methods and acupoints are introduced in this article to teach one to conduct a TCM acupressure self-massage as a form of prevention of these occupational ailments.

 Hitting/Massaging Hou Xi Acupoint

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Location of Acupoint: Making a loose fist, the point is on the ulnar side of the palm at the end of the transverse crease, close to the fifth joint between the palm and small finger. 

Technique: With both palms facing up, hit the ulnar sides of the palms against each other for 50 to 100 times. Otherwise, with one palm facing the chest, massage the Hou Xi acupoint with the thumb of the other hand for 2-3 minutes. Switch and repeat the massage for the other hand.

Benefits: People who spend long hours writing or typing on computers will often find themselves having sore shoulders and necks, which may ultimately result in chronic neck pain or strains and cervical spondylosis if left unaddressed. Hou Xi acupoint is found along the meridian that links the neck, shoulder and fingers, thus hitting Hou Xi acupoint can help to relax and relieve soreness in the neck muscles. Frequent stimulation of this acupoint can help prevent acute neck sprain/strain, growth of cervical bone spurs and cervical degeneration. 

 Massaging Cheng Qi Acupoint

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Location of Acupoint: With the eyes looking straight ahead, the acupoint is vertically under the pupil, below the eyeball and above the lower border of the orbit.

Technique: Use the index fingers of both hands to lightly massage the acupoints near both eyes in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction simultaneously for 10 minutes after working at the computer for 1 to 2 hours.

Benefits: Daily long hours of looking at the computer screen can result in overuse of the eyes and can expose one to heighten light stimulation and radiation. This can in turn lead to health issues such as blurred vision, dry eyes, dizziness, etc. Through frequent massages of Cheng Qi acupoint, it can help to increase qi and blood nourishment to the eyes, thus bringing about relief to the tired eyes, decrease chances of having eye diseases and even improve eyesight in the long term.  

 Hitting/Massaging Lao Gong Acupoint

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Location of Acupoint: At the centre of the palm, between the 2nd and 3rd metacarpal bones, and in the part touching the tip of the middle finger when a fist is made. 

Technique: With one hand making a fist, the acupoint which is located at the centre of the palm is hit with the fisted hand at an intensity where the area of the acupoint feels lightly sore. Repeat for 36 times. Otherwise, with one palm facing up, massage the Lao Gong acupoint with the thumb of the other hand for 2-3 minutes. Switch and repeat the massage for the other hand.

Benefits: Lao Gong acupoint is located on the Pericardium Meridian, in which pericardium is the outer covering of the heart.  In TCM, it is recorded in classics that the pericardium “takes on illnesses and ailments on behalf of the heart”, meaning that not only is it a physical protective covering for the heart, it is also more susceptible to illnesses and conditions related to the heart such as stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue. Therefore, during times of negative emotions developed from work, hitting/massaging Lao Gong acupoint can stimulate the Pericardium Meridian and in turns relieves tension and fatigue. Furthermore, frequent stimulation of this acupoint can have additional benefits of soothing the nerves, promoting better sleep, reducing stress and relieving tension of the hand muscles. 

 Massaging the Ear Acupoints

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Location of Acupoints: All over the ears. 

Technique: Using both hands, lightly massage both ears in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction for 36 times simultaneously. 

Benefits: The ear contains over 120 acupoints that correspond to various parts of the body. In fact, when seen as a whole, the areas represented by different ear acupoints is said to be an illustration of an inverted near-term fetus projected onto the ear. In TCM, it is mentioned that all major meridians pass through the ear, making massages of the ears effective in treating a variety of ailments throughout the body. Therefore, for people who lack exercises and have poor circulations, massaging the ear acupoints can stimulate most of the meridians and increase body circulation rapidly. Frequent massages of the ear acupoints can even improve the general state of health.

Dr Lim Xiang Jun is registered Dr of Traditional Chinese Medicine Physician whom first completed her BSc(hons) in Biomedical Sciences in Singapore before completing a BSc in Chinese Medicine, MSc and PHD in Acupuncture in Beijing. She is also qualified in Yoga and is a certified Ayurveda Practitioner.

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Lifting the Veil of Acupuncture Slimming

Matt Winter

In our modern Singapore today, western medical aesthetic centres that offer high technology and fast methods such as laser treatment, liposuction, fat freeze cryoliposis, ultrasound melting, digestion mimicking pills etc. have long dominated the market for people seeking for quick-fix slimming solutions. So when the traditional method – acupuncture is suggested, scepticism will start to surface as to how poking yourself with multiple needles can actually slim you down and why this option that requires more of your time and effort should have an edge over those other easier ways out. Here I shall unveil the mystery behind how this century-old method works for slimming and why this method rises above the rest for helping you shake off that flab and get you all toned up.

Acupuncture conditions gastrointestinal functions

We all know that the main causes of weight gain and obesity are basically increased “input” and reduced “output”. In other words, increased “input” refers to excess daily food intake than what is required by your body and reduced “output” is the burning of the energy from the food digested.  Acupuncture is capable of tackling the first issue of excess daily food intake by conditioning and regulating the gastrointestinal functions. 

How acupuncture does so is by stimulating certain acupoints that tones the muscular sphincter or “gateway” which food passes from the gastric to the small intestine. In this way, food emptying time from the gastric is extended and therefore one will not feel hungry that rapidly and appetite is controlled, leading to a reduction in “input”. 

Acupuncture increases bodily metabolism 

Metabolism is the “output” that we are talking about above and it simply means burning off the food that we have eaten for energy to substantiate the body to work. Increasing metabolism is what people who watch their weight carefully will strive to achieve as it simply means you can eat more, but burn off more at the same time! 

Acupuncture can help increase bodily metabolism by stimulating the thyroid glands to produce hormones that governs the metabolism of every cell in the body. In doing so, each cell will be able to utilised more energy from the food for various bodily functions, leading to a more efficient and healthier workings of the bodily systems at the same time.  This is how acupuncture can increase the “output”.

Acupuncture reduces cravings

Another way of reducing increased “input” or food intake by acupuncture is by reducing the cravings for one to overeat. This is achieved through the stimulation of some acupoints where there are nerve endings paving to appetite suppression region in the brain.

Acupuncture calms the nerves

People who crave and overeat are known to be overly stimulated in their nervous system as they try to seek food as an outlet to ease their daily stresses. Acupuncture then plays a part by helping to exert a calming effect on the nervous system and helping one to become more clear-minded when it comes to food choices and the way they eat. In doing so, people are able to give what the body needs, not what the body wants. 

Acupuncture improves the sensitivity of taste and smell

Nowadays, people are less sensitive in their sense of taste and smell as these sensory systems are often overly stimulated and desensitized with too much chemicals or synthetic flavourings found in our foods today. Acupuncture can reverse the desensitization of taste and smell by aiding in regeneration and renewal of the nerve endings of the sensory systems. When people can taste and smell better, they will be able to enjoy the natural flavours of the foods much easily without the need for fanciful cooking or flavouring that can add a lot more extra calories to their food intake. Also, by being able to enjoy the full flavours of the food, people can attain greater satisfaction from a normal portion of food and not crave for more to fill up the sensory void in one eating experience.  

Simply put, acupuncture achieves the effect of slimming not simply by tackling the flabs and burning away fat cells, but by solving the deeper internal bodily issues as a whole and empowering one’s body to function correctly and healthily. When the body is healthy and balanced, it will be capable of shedding off the excess and unnecessary and keep itself in good shape. Therefore, the chances of rebounce through acupuncture slimming is minimal but the journey will be a longer one as this solution does not just scrape the surface of the problem, but takes on the higher role of improving one’s health and well-being. Shedding that extra flab is but only one of the many benefits that one can get through this traditional time-tested slimming method. 

Dr Lim Xiang Jun is registered Dr of Traditional Chinese Medicine Physician whom first completed her BSc(hons) in Biomedical Sciences in Singapore before completing a BSc in Chinese Medicine, MSc and PHD in Acupuncture in Beijing. She is also qualified in Yoga and is a certified Ayurveda Practitioner.

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Facial acupuncture – A Drugless Alternative to Botox?

Michael L.

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By Dr Lim Xiang Jun

Facial acupuncture or cosmetic acupuncture is one of the wonderful timeless beauty therapies practised by the Chinese since the Sung Dynasty (960-1279AD). It is said to be one of the basic Traditional Chinese Medicine methods for preserving the youths and beauty of royalties such as Empress Dowager Cixi and the only female emperor in Chinese history Wu Ze Tian. Even up till today, this method has been highly popular among the rich and famous such as Madonna, Cher and Gwyneth Paltrow who are said to have committed to their weekly facial acupuncture sessions to ward off their wrinkles.

While most information surrounding the effectiveness of facial acupuncture is anecdotal, a 1996 research reported in the International Journal of Clinical Acupuncture showed that 90 percent of 300 individuals who tried facial acupuncture saw positive results, including softening of facial lines, improvement in skin tone, reduction of under-eye circles and a general facial glow.


What good can I get from needling my face?

So to sum it up, this is a short but not exhaustive list of the wonderful benefits of facial acupuncture:

-Firms sagging skin

-Helps to minimize fine lines and wrinkles

-Tightens pores

-Reduces dark circles and puffiness under the eyes

-Lightens blemishes and scars

-Reduces double chin

-Improves skin complexion and gives a healthy glow

-Makes face becomes smaller and resculpts facial features

-Improves hormone-based skin conditions

-Treat dry skin and oily skin acne

-Non-invasive

-Less costly and safer than surgery, chemical peels and injections

-Restores balance to the body and create a sense of well-being

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 How can facial acupuncture achieve those above?

-Increases muscle tone - firm up sagging skin

-Stimulates cells to lay down new collagen and elastin fibres under wrinkles and pores - filling them in and minimizing them

-Promotes lymphatic drainage - detoxifies and drains blockages in the face which are causing dark circles, puffiness, blemishes, double chin and poor skin complexion

-Promotes increased blood flow to face - new blood brings fresh oxygen, nutrients etc to nourish the face - healthy glow

-Fat burning effect of acupuncture - reduce size of face and reshape facial features

-Rebalances hormonal systems !improves hormone-based skin conditions, oily or dry skin

-Balances organ systems through face mapping, in which accupuncturing different facial parts can affect different internal organ systems - restores balance to body and create a sense of well being.

Needles over chemicals and knife?

For facial acupuncture, stimulation of the body’s own healing capability and aging reversal powers is the key to this aesthetic procedure. Therefore, since patients do not take chemicals or undergo anaesthesia and surgery, there’s little if any controversy over the safety of this method, not to mention side effects.

Furthermore, facial acupuncture do not just tackle your face, it works to balance your whole body and organ systems and get them working well so that your face can exhibit the healthy glow from within and not just skin deep at the face. This is unlike methods such as Botox injections, Restylane fillers, chemical peels and surgical facelifts where the face, and only the face, is addressed.

However as this is a fully natural method to rejuvenate the face and cut back a number of years on the biological age exhibited, time and effort is required of the patient to upkeep the sessions for accumulative effects of acupuncture to take place. Normally, the ideal recommended frequency for facial acupuncture to fully come into effect is to undergo the procedure once every alternate day, 20 sessions as 1 course of treatment, 20 to 30 minutes for each session. However, if one is too busy to keep up with the intensity of the ideal treatment sessions and frequency, then the basic frequency of once to twice every week is recommended, with 40 sessions as 1 course of treatment. In this case, more treatment sessions are needed as the wider a patient spreads out the treatment frequency, the longer time is needed for the effect of acupuncture to accumulate.

So are you ready to needle back the hands of time?

 

Dr Lim Xiang Jun is registered Dr of Traditional Chinese Medicine Physician whom first completed her BSc(hons) in Biomedical Sciences in Singapore before completing a BSc in Chinese Medicine, MSc and PHD in Acupuncture in Beijing. She is also qualified in Yoga and is a certified Ayurveda Practitioner.

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IS PILATES MAKING YOUR BACK PAIN WORSE?

Michael L.

About 80% of people will report back pain at some point of their lives. It is one of the most common issues that is presented to physiotherapists and it’s far more complex than an x-ray or MRI will have you believe!

Having completed a thorough medical examination and established the root cause of your pain a rehabilitation programme will be designed. Often, pilates type exercises can be integrated within this.

Some patients however may actually report that they have already been doing pilates and this had triggered their pain or at best not helped it. This is where we come in! - Here are three reasons why pilates may have not been helping you.

Did you know?

THE BIG THREE PILATES MISTAKES
1) Activating/Tensing your core when doing exercises to “protect” your back. This can lead to bracing (an activation of all of your trunk muscles) which can be too much activation. As an example, move your wrist in circles, feels easy right? Now try with a clenched fist.

Harder, right? It is too much effort for a movement. This is very similar to a bracing trunk.

Furthermore “bracing” can lead to all sorts of pelvic floor problems such as stress incontinence in women. Our article next month will expand on this more.

2) Doing an exercise that is too complicated.
A popular exercise that people do is the ‘V’ this is a very dynamic exercise and can really load core muscles.

The ‘V’:

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The ‘V’: Improper

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Gross movement is often seen and it is poorly controlled at the head, neck and Thoracic spine (mid back). This often leads to neck pain and reinforces a forward head position and rounded shoulders.

3) Doing exercises that are too heavy.
A classic exercise that people do is the double leg lift. You lie on your back and lift both legs. Simple but requires a lot of core strength to do it without bracing. I often see people with back pain when they do this exercise incorrectly.

When your legs are lifted up, this weighs the pelvis down and makes you arch your back, straining the back muscles. You should be able to have adequate strength from the abdominals to stop your back from arching to keep your pelvis and spine in neutral (ideal position).

Call or email for a formal examination of your back pain and an expert review of how your pilates exercises could better be used in your care

Integrative Physio: +65 6493 2252 to see Kham or email: info@iphysio.sg

 Kham Lang is a Scottish trained Physiotherapist who completed his Bachelors and Masters in Physiotherapy at Glasgow Caledonian University. He has worked in Singapore for over a decade and has special interest and postgraduate qualifications in clinical pilates. 

Kham Lang is a Scottish trained Physiotherapist who completed
his Bachelors and Masters in Physiotherapy at Glasgow
Caledonian University. He has worked in Singapore for
over a decade and has special interest and postgraduate
qualifications in clinical pilates. 

 

 

 

3 Simple Signs of Shoulder Impingement

Michael L.

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The phrase “shoulder impingement” is often used as an umbrella term for many different types of shoulder pain. It refers to the irritation or trapping of varying structures - musculotendonous or bursal in between the top of the humerus (arm bone) and beneath the tip of the acromion  (edge of the shoulder blade. ) Its quite difficult to determine this type of pain from early frozen shoulder or even pain referred from the neck.  

While you can consider visiting a physiotherapy clinic for proper diagnosis, there’s no harm asking yourself some questions to see wether you really have shoulder impingement. Here are the three simple questions you can ask yourself to clarify the matter

Any numbness/pins and needles or shooting pain to the hand?

Weird symptoms like tingling (pins and needles), shooting electrical pains to the hand and numbness rarely come from shoulder impingement. These symptoms could come from the neck or an area such as the thoracic outlet and need further investigation.

Does the pain wake me up at around 2am?

Bizarrely whilst many shoulder issues are painful to sleep on, rotator cuff tendonitis seems to consistently wake patients up at around 2am. If you’re not waking up it doesn’t meant that you don’t have impingement, but if you are it may indicate that you do!

 The Arc Test

This is a simple test where the arm needs to first be in a relaxed position. Now start moving it outwards toward your head in an arc. You will need to check the angle at which you experience the pain. For instance, if you feel the pain in the mid-range which is from 60degrees to 135degrees but not before and not after, you may well have shoulder impingement.

One of the best ways to deal with shoulder impingement is by utilising a through physiotherapy assessment and treatment. Medications to reduce inflammation (NSAID’s) or injection therapy to reduced inflammation (steroids) or provoke healing (PRP) can be of use. However, correcting your mechanics and dealing with restrictions within the soft tissues and joints whilst increasing strength and stability have been found to be just as good as surgery and with a fraction of the risk and pain. Furthermore repeated use of corticoseteroids into the shoulder have been shown to reduce the strength of the tendon and increase risk of further tears.   

Whilst there are occasions for surgery, a recent study actually showed that surgical decompression for shoulder impingement was no better than a sham/placebo surgery. Think carefully before going under the knife and remember….you are not your MRI!

4 more Unusual Ways to Prevent or Treat Neck Pain

Michael L.

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In the first part of this article series, we looked at some off-beat remedies for treating back pain. Although visits to your physiotherapy clinic may still be required for diagnosing and managing acute injuries or chronic pain conditions, you can use some alternative treatments methods simultaneously. Here are some more unusual yet effective ways to deal with neck pain.

1. Eat Well

There is growing opinion and research to suggest that a number of nutrients are involved in pain relating to neuromusculoskeletal system. Vitamin D for joints and pain in general, magnesium for muscle, nerve and bone health and B vitamins for energy production in general and neurological health are key in the full functioning  of the systems that support you on a day to day basis.

2. Perform aqua exercises

Getting into the pool is possibly one of the most fun ways of managing your back pain. Consider a mild swim session once a week. Perform a few squats and free hand exercises as you stand bust-deep in water. Water provides a controlled resistance to your movements, reduces joint compression through buoyancy thus safely working wonders for aches and pains.

3. Apply ice and heat

Both warm compress and ice packs can work wonders for your neck pain. If it is a muscle sprain or spasm, consider using a heat pad. Ice pack is best suited for acute injuries (the first 12 hours). They can be applied for 20mins every two hours. You can seek further advice on this from a specialist in your nearby physiotherapy clinic.

4. Don’t sit straight - move

A large and growing body of evidence is attempting to fight popular opinion (since Victorian times) that sitting straight is best. The evidence suggests that no posture is better than any other when it comes to static/repetitive low loads. More likely, the suggestion is that movement is best. After all we were made to move, not to sit, nor stand still, no matter the position, for any length of time. The key to life and pain free living, perhaps, is variation.

Non-surgical Treatment Options for Neck Pain

Michael L.

Neck pain is both very common and fairly scary. Patients often rush to their doctor for scans to get to try and seek the answer to their pain but this often proves disturbing and unhelpful in equal measure. Often, neck pain is caused by poor posture, lack of movement or poor movement patterns that are occurring both in the neck and the rest of the body. Other common causes include sudden injury from an accident, degenerative disorders, spinal infection, and even stress or emotional tension. Most cases of neck pain do not require a surgical treatment. Self-help measures or home treatments help deal with most cases of neck pain. For more serious neck problems, you can visit a physiotherapy clinic or try other non-surgical treatment options.

Medicines

If you have acute, short-term neck pain, you can use over-the-counter pain relievers or seek medical attention. Some common types of drugs that work well for neck pain include anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants and even opioids.

Cervical collars 

You may also be advised to use cervical collars to help support the neck and restrict extreme neck movements for a short period. Make sure you do not use it for more than one or two days. Long-term use of soft collars has not shown to be of benefit and may even worsen a neck condition by causing weakening of the surrounding muscles that support the neck.

Physical Therapy (Physiotherapy)

Combining manual therapy with exercise is one of the most effective treatments of neck pain. Manual therapy includes targeted soft tissue release (various types of specific massage), mobilisation of the joints and manipulation. If done correctly, this type of treatment helps release tension and muscle stiffness naturally. However, it is very important to undergo any kind of manual therapy under the guidance of an expert such as a Physiotherapist or Osteopath. chiropractor or osteopathic doctor. Physical therapy (physiotherapy) can resolve most cases of neck pain within three to six weeks. You practitioner will also ask you to continue doing some stretching and strengthening exercises at home to help prevent any possible relapse.

It will be important to seek a physiotherapist that looks for root cause of your condition, be it postural, your movement patterns or restrictions within your shoulders, mid back or even further afield to help solve the route of your problem. More research is now showing that is almost important to get the root of the problem with an MRI! 

Acupuncture

This treatment method works by inserting a number of fine needles in different parts of the body. That way, they try to restrict the pain singles from reaching the brain. According to acupuncture experts, neck pain or any kind of pain occurs when the natural energy flow or “Qi” of your body gets obstructed. Acupuncture treatment helps to unblock the Qi flow through needling and thus helps restore natural movements of the neck. Make sure you receive any kind of acupuncture treatment from an expert in the field.

Dry Needling

Dry needling is another technique often utilised my physiotherapists, osteopaths and medical doctors to resolve pain and reduce spasm, restoring muscle length. It uses the same type of needles as used in acupuncture but in this case the needles are briefly inserted into areas bands of tension causing a “twitch response”. This response causes a relaxation of the tissue and the brief injury to the tissue via the needle helps accelerate the healing process.

In summary there are a large range of treatments available for neck pain. Most of the time neck and back pain can not be adequately explained with an x-ray or MRI and does NOT require surgical intervention and can be resolved with physiotherapy or “conservative” management. The key is early assessment by a qualified practitioner to rule out any serious conditions and identify the route cause of your problem followed by appropriate manual therapy, exercise prescription and potentially adjuncts such as dry needling or acupuncture.

How to Deal with Chronic Pain

Michael L.

It is estimated that by 2030, chronic pain will affect 20% of the population in Singapore. Musculoskeletal pain such as neck, back and shoulder pain are highly prevalent. Chronic pain can give rise to other complications like fatigue, restlessness, and mood swings, decreased productivity at work and low mood. Thankfully, physiotherapy, among other treatment options, can help cure the problem from within. Here’s how you can deal with your chronic pain.

Start tracking the pain

 Keep a record of your daytime activity, tracking every detail. Mark pain suffered from certain activities on a scale of 0-10. You will be able to see patterns after a week or so. If it is the sedentary nature of your job that is causing the pain, simply change your chair or adjusting your desk height may be a good start. Sometimes you may even notice changes in pain with certain foods so a food diary may also benefit. A functional medicine practitioner or nutritionist will help guide you with this.

Engage in physical activity

It might sound counteractive, but staying physically active is necessary to fight chronic pain. The body's natural reaction to pain is to protect the concerned part from further strain. If you experience acute pain, you should rest and consult a healthcare professional. However, if you have chronic pain, you may be advised to engage in light physical activity. Go cycling, swim, walk, or get physiotherapy.

Keep the body hydrated

Dehydration is proved to aggravate conditions like back pain and headache. Drink 2-3 litres of water every day and always carry a water bottle with you. Now days water is potentially contaminated with synthetic hormones, heavy metals amongst other toxins. Get yourself a water trusted filter to help avoid this. A functional medicine practitioner can help guide you in this process.

Undergo Physiotherapy

Whilst self management is the aim. A physiotherapy clinic or physiotherapist can help to diagnose in structural pathology and also seek the underlying causes of your pain. Choose a practitioner that provides holistic treatment, seeks imbalances and utilises a wide range of techniques including dry needling, manual therapy. A practitioner that understands nutrition and systemic causes of pain is also of real value.

Don't force yourself

Those with chronic pain often have a tendency to get carried away and push through the pain. It might come off momentarily, but it could get even worse the next morning. The focus, instead, should be on time, and not task. Pacing is a technique where you can accomplish all your tasks by knowing how long you can go without experiencing pain. It is not a case of no pain no gain. Work within pain free limits to help “desensitise your brain to movement”.

Dos and Don'ts of eating

Processed food and refined sugar must be avoided, they trigger inflammation. Diets that are easy to digest can help reduce inflammation. These include leafy greens, low-sugar fruits, soy products, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Turmeric is an excellent anti-inflammatory ingredient which is also good for ligament flexibility. Foods bad for inflammation include dairy, eggs, chocolate, nightshade vegetables, and red wine. Magnesium in leafy greens is great for muscle relaxation amongst hundreds of other chemical reactions in the body and many of us are deficient without knowing.

Watch your posture

You needn't be an expert at Yoga or a member of the armed forces to have a healthy spine. This can be done by simply maintaining good posture while watching TV or working at the computer. Remember posture is the average orientation of body parts over time. This means you don’t have to sit straight ALL the time but on average you want to be in neutral. Basically “your next posture is your best posture” - in other words, keep moving! Set a challenge, move every 20mins - this is a key physiological time.

Manage Stress

Stress does many things.  It actually changes our hormone production pushing us more towards cortisol and reduces our sex hormone production. This causes all sorts of effects including increasing inflammation, increasing pain sensitivity but also reducing drive (for sex and for work), increasing weight gain around the middle and even effecting hair loss. There are many ways of managing this as we will go through in subsequent articles, but scheduling time out and even simple breathing exercises can make a real difference.

 

 

Lyme Disease - In the Lyme Light

Matt Winter

Lyme disease was, unsurprisingly, first named in the village Lyme, Connecticut, USA in 1975. Lyme stands for Lyme Borreliosis. The bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi is carried in some tick bites and in fewer cases via horse-fly bites.

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TCM for Insomnia & Sleep disorders

Matt Winter

Patients battling chronic insomnia can tell you that insufficient or poor quality sleep leads not only to irritability and exhaustion, but also to muscle stiffness, impaired cognitive function, fibromyalgia and other significant health problems. Commonly, Western medicine will search for a physical or emotional problem causing the sleeplessness, but TCM recognizes that insomnia can stem from a fundamental imbalance of energy or qi.

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My neck is causing my headache?

Matt Winter

Headaches are one of the most common ailments that affect people’s lives daily. Everyone complains of different types of headaches, positions of pain, duration and cause of these headaches. Fortunately, physiotherapy can help assess treat and manage the symptoms as well as treat the root cause of the problem.

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Can physio help my Jaw?

Matt Winter

Most people do not know that physiotherapy has been shown to be effective for a wide range of issues around the head including jaw pain, headaches and neck pain (1). Furthermore physiotherapy has also been proven to be effective in treating altered sensations like persistent itchiness, numbness and tingling and many more that are listed below (2). In a survey of members of the American Dental Association, physiotherapy was listed among the 10 most common treatments used, involving 10% to 17% of patients for jaw dysfunction (3). 

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How come everyone has Tennis Elbow?

Matt Winter

As stated in our previous article, people in the medical field tend to have a preference for certain diagnoses when it comes to certain locations of the body. This is true for the elbow with the majority of patients being told that they suffer from tennis elbow. This condition shares broad similarities to other conditions that effect the elbow so it is wise that you seek a physiotherapist for a thorough examination and management plan.

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Do you really have Frozen Shoulder?

Matt Winter

Do you really have Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)?

Shoulder pain and restriction are common symptoms reported by everyone as they age. Most people seek help to relieve these symptoms and often receive the diagnosis of Frozen Shoulder. Unfortunately in a lot of cases this is incorrect as you will see below many shoulder conditions feature similar characteristics so can be easily confused. It is important that you see a physiotherapist so that they can thoroughly assess and advise on the optimal treatment for you.

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