My Journey to Pain Relief Expertise
When I opened Acupuncture Pain and Stress Center in 2010, I aimed to provide the most complete care possible. I wanted to be the therapist who listened fully to patients and took the time to thoroughly investigate their concerns. I refused to offer cookie-cutter solutions that provided temporary relief but failed to address the root causes of complex conditions.
Early in my career, patients seeking treatment for pain and injuries often asked, “Is acupuncture a permanent solution?” While I was achieving positive results, pain often returned in similar patterns after some time. I recognized a gap in my services but didn’t yet know how to address it.
In 2015, I sought out the best possible teacher to refine my Chinese medicine diagnostic and treatment skills. Andrew Nugent-Head opened my eyes to a whole new level of detail and possibility. With 25 years of training in China under esteemed martial artists, bodyworkers, and Chinese medicine practitioners, Andrew had developed a reputation for solving even the most difficult cases with repeatable, reliable results. The first course I took from him, on treating external injuries, transformed my career.
Andrew introduced me to a more hands-on approach to diagnosis and treatment. He emphasized using the needle as a tool to solve problems, not just inserting them passively. Time and again, he stressed my job was to find out where the kink in the hose was and give the body a chance to create change using needles, massage, stretching, traction, rehab, or whatever the situation required. His teachings provided in-depth insights on observing patient movement, speech, and the right questions to ask to guide my treatment.
This shifted my perspective. Now, when a patient comes to me, I don’t just address the immediate problem; I look for what in the body is allowing this problem to happen and keep happening. One of Andrew’s insights resonated deeply: “Many of us are taught that the human body is always trying to fix itself, and while this is true to some extent, it is not true all the same. The human body is always prioritizing survival. It will focus on fixing immediate threats to its functionality. This means some issues end up getting partially fixed or ‘fixed enough,’ and then the body moves on to something more urgent.”
The Search Continues
Yet the question remained: “Is this a permanent solution for my pain, or will I have to keep coming back?” My new approach improved outcomes dramatically, but Andrew’s decades of training in movement, bodywork, and other skills set him apart.
My passion for treating physical ailments grew, and I loved the challenge of solving each patient’s pain puzzle. However, I still craved a comprehensive solution that worked for me.
Then I discovered Dave O’Sullivan, a renowned physiotherapist from Huddersfield, England. Known for his work in the Rugby World Cup and with the England Rugby League, Dave brings a unique perspective as a physiotherapist. Yet, his ideas aligned seamlessly with my understanding of Chinese medicine. Dave offers a six-month ‘Go-To’ Physio program, providing in-depth diagnostic techniques, hands-on treatment methods, and multi-level rehabilitation strategies. He stresses finding the “why” – analyzing how muscles work together to perform tasks. Only then can you see where things break down.
It resonated deeply with Chinese medicine theory. Dave added new detail on muscle function and coordination. His training emphasizes hands-on diagnostics, bodywork, and varied rehabilitation exercises. His experience taught him that many traditional physiotherapy interventions offer only short-term results. He’s developed a system for accurate diagnosis and treatment aimed at permanent solutions using a graded exposure plan.
Dave teaches the importance of listening to clues and asking the right questions to uncover the injury’s history. After all, most injuries result from a pattern of vulnerability that caused the body to break down in a specific way. Although his lens is slightly different, his approach parallels that of Chinese medicine.
He emphasizes that after truly listening to the patient and performing a thorough assessment, you can identify the nervous system’s adaptations due to previous injuries and stressors. Understanding this allows you to explain to the patient, in simple terms, what’s causing the injury, what steps will lead to a solution, and how they must actively participate in their healing. This sets realistic expectations.
Through Dave’s program, I gained an in-depth understanding of appropriate exercise levels for different stages of rehabilitation. I can now progress or regress a patient’s activities based on their unique needs. No cookie-cutter, print-out solutions that disappoint so many.
Dave emphasizes testing, treating, providing targeted movement, and retesting to ensure the patient benefits from the work. This removes guesswork and uncertainty.
The Answer: Move Better, Live Better
Now, with two frames of reference, a multitude of treatment tools, and exercises tailored to each patient’s starting point, I can confidently answer the question: “Is this a permanent solution for my pain, or will I have to keep coming back?”
My answer: Together, we will progressively repair and reset your body so that you can regain confidence in movement and get back to doing what you love without trepidation.