Can Acupuncture Help with Pain? Ask the Dr. with Paresh Shelat of Pohala Clinic in Portland, Oregon

By Dr. Paresh H. Shelat, Naturopathic Physician and Licensed Acupuncturist at Pohala Clinic in Portland, OR. 

In my clinical opinion, absolutely.  Both acute and chronic pain account for a billion dollar industry. With many different therapeutic modalities and approaches to reduce pain, and subsequent disability resulting from pain, what are patients left to do? Ideally, INQUIRE and be CURIOUS. After all, it’s the job of any healthcare provider to inform patients of their treatment options and to educate them about pain and what it means to have pain so that we can come up with a healthy plan that reduces pain without adding the complications of medication side effects. In doing so, both the provider and patient can formulate a healthy plan that reduces pain without adding the potential complications of medication side effects.

The most common pain-related conditions I see in practice include:

    1. Low Back Pain: A majority of people have low back pain at some point in their life.  It’s also the most common musculoskeletal pain.
    2. Neck Pain / Mid-Back Pain.
    3. Shoulder Pain / Rotator Cuff Injuries.
    4. Knee Pain: Resulting from both acute injury or more systematic / degenerative problems such as osteoarthritis or autoimmune disease.
    5. Muscle Strains / Muscle Cramps.

What are the most common treatment options or treatment recommendations I typically see primary care providers use? Please note that there is nothing inherently wrong with the treatments in the list below. This is simply what I normally see in general health care and there is no question that they have their place in a pain management plan. My goal is to show a client all of his or her options.

    1. Pharmacologic Medications: NSAIDS, Muscle Relaxers, Opioids etc.
    2. Physical Therapy.
    3. Osteopathic / Chiropractic Care.
    4. Massage Therapy.

Why I add acupuncture to my list:

Acupuncture is the least invasive process I have found to help with acute and chronic pain.  Patients often don’t know to ask for acupuncture and are often surprised that insurance can cover the treatment depending on a person’s plan.

Acupuncture helps to reduce or minimize medications altogether as well as enhance other manual based therapeutic modalities such as physical therapy and massage. Why not try acupuncture first? It makes sense for anyone who wants a cost effective, natural treatment for pain. 

How Does Acupuncture Help Reduce Pain? 

Pain is multifactorial and spans across all aspects of healthcare: spiritual health, emotional health, mental health, physical health, and perhaps most importantly, our cognitive understanding of pain ( what it means to have pain.)  Additionally, lifestyle factors greatly impact pain and include: diet, self-care measures, cultural values, family, and external stressors of all kinds (e.g. relationships, finances, home, etc). 

Let me expand on this by briefly discussing my views on the western and eastern philosophy of acupuncture.

    • The Western Paradigm / Model: By introducing a novel stimulus (e.g. acupuncture) to the site of injury, we can impart change on the autonomic nervous system.  More precisely, we are able to provide the brain with information that is non-harmful and non-threatening. This in turn will change, and hopefully decrease, the output of pain by the brain.
    • The Eastern Paradigm / Model: Our body’s are made up of energy channels (e.g. meridians) that run up and down our body. These energy channels correspond to organs and organs systems (e.g stomach channel).  Acupuncture allows us to engage these energetic streams by needling (applying a very thin needle) specific locations to unblock and/or correct disrupted flow that may lead to pain syndromes. Furthermore, acupuncture provides us the opportunity to correct multiple imbalances at once while simultaneously supporting health on a multitude of levels as mentioned above.

Is Acupuncture Right For You?

There are times when more interventional based treatments are required (e.g. surgery) due to the extent of tissue injury.  The importance of proper evaluation (history and physical exam) cannot be over-emphasized.  By combining appropriate evaluation with physician-patient dialogue (e.g. education), often times, many patients can reduce recovery times of acute injuries, avoid unnecessary imaging, as well as reduce and significantly improve chronic pain syndromes. 

I would recommend each and every single patient to talk to a healthcare practitioner knowledgable about Chinese Medicine and how it can be integrated into your standard healthcare regimen. 

Perhaps, the most important decision you make is whether you allow yourself to be open-minded about the possibility of new ways to reduce pain and improve mobility.  I urge you to ask questions. I implore you to allow yourself the opportunity to become educated about pain. This is the first step to achieving your goals of having NO PAIN. 

In my practice at Pohala Clinic in Portland, OR, and given my background in naturopathic medicine and Chinese Medicine, I use a combination of treatment modalities to help my clients who have pain. These include but are not limited to: acupuncture, botanical medicine, homeopathy, nutraceuticals, naturopathic manipulative techniques, manual therapy, and much more! 

If you would like to learn more about ways in which you can reduce your pain, please schedule a visit at Pohala Clinic in Portland, OR. I look forward to learning more about you.

Chronic Pain Management with Julie Foster Nurse Practitioner in Portland, Oregon

Pohala Clinic Client Julie A. Fast talks about working with Julie Foster for chronic pain management help.

“Managing chronic pain is more than medications. It’s about lifestyle changes and helping a person find natural ways to exercise and work with the pain in order to have a functional life.” 

 

I’ve worked with nurse practitioner Julie Foster as my primary care physician in Portland, Oregon for over ten years. During this time, she has helped me through a variety of sport related injuries that eventually led to a problem with chronic pain.  With her help, I have regular body treatments from various processionals,  have worked on my diet and eventually got my pain under control.  Julie’s advice is always specific. We talk about sleep and natural treatments. We use homeopathic remedies and acupuncture and well.

 

She reminds me that what I put in my body will be reflected in how my body responds to injuries. I know this and am working on it daily.

I want to share my story with others who are looking for help with chronic pain so that they can hopefully work with Julie in finding a plan that works in all areas of life.

Chronic pain is with me daily. I know that without my own way of dealing with the ups and downs of energy I experience depending on my pain levels, I will have a tough time in life.

 

Do You Need Help with Chronic Pain? 

We all need a plan to help us get on with life, even when the pain makes it difficult to get out of bed. I consider myself half way through this journey of getting my body back to where it was before I had my biking accident. This is something I love about working with Julie Foster. She gives me time. There is no judgement when I tell her I’m still having trouble with sugar and there is always a celebration when I am able to better follow her advice. Her patience with me has allowed me to find help for chronic pain that got me out of my special anti gravity chair and back in the world.

 

Julie taught me that chronic pain can have a life of its own. I need to be aware of what is real in my body and what is being created by my overloaded brain.  Julie often says, “The body and mind often trade off. The mind gives us trouble and when we have this figured out, the body then sends us a message that there is still more work to do. Eventually, balance happens when the mind and the body are healthy at the same time.”

 

This is my goal. Julie allows me to be human.  When I am not able to follow the diet in a way that I know will help, she reminds me that the next day is another chance to make better choices. This has allowed me to learn more about what I need. My weight has stabilized and I am now working on finding an eating plan that helps with the pain in general. This includes the following:

 

  1. Night shades such as tomatoes and chili peppers cause an immediate flare in my body. Stopping my favorite Mexican and Thai dishes has not been easy, but for now, I am very conscious of my night shade intake and it is helping greatly.

2. Movement. Chronic pains tells us that we can’t move. This is rarely the case. Even someone like myself with multiple injuries can move.

3.  White sugar.  Julie once said to me, “Julie, the fat that is created on the body from sugar consumption becomes its own organ. It can become yet another source of pain.”  When I am free from white sugar, even for a week, my pain levels go down greatly.

4. Medication pain management.  My goal is to be pain medication free.  To do this, I continue to work with Julie and the other practitioners in my life who are helping me change my diet and work on my specific injuries.

Without Julie, this would be too overwhelming. With her, I am reminded that I can get my body healthy again. It takes a team and Julie is an important part of that team.

 

 

Julie A. Fast

 

To book a time with Julie Foster or one of our Pohala Practitioners, please call the Pohala Clinic and let the receptionist know that Julie A. Fast referred you!

 

How Does Acupuncture Help Knee Pain


Knees are particularly susceptible to pain and injury. They are a joint we often take for granted until they no longer work optimally or feel healthy. Maintaining knee health is essential as we age. Take care of your knees today through acupuncture.

Acupuncture can help ease and eliminate both chronic and acute pain. Acupuncture helps increase circulation and decrease inflammation by stimulating local acupuncture points at the knees. Distal points (other points on the body) can also be used if the knees are inaccessible.

Stimulating distal acupuncture points helps move Qi along the channels involving the knees, keeping it flowing properly through the joint.

Distal points also help address underlying conditions that lead to knee pain.

Maila Susee,
Acupuncturist

Visit our Pohala Clinic contact page to schedule an appointment with Malia

Help from Acupuncture in Portland, Oregon with Malia Susee

 

Pohala Clinic focuses on the whole body experience for every client.  Whether you visit a practitioner for a specific illness, a check up or for chronic pain, our providers specialize in treating the body, mind and the spirit. Acupuncturist Malia Susee embodies this philosophy.

If this is your first time with an acupuncturist, Malia explains the philosophy behind her work and how she came to practice the ancient healing and chi balancing technique.

I have always had a love of language, learning, and travel. Along with this, I harbor a fascination with the human body’s anatomy, physiology, and energetic potential. I was a student of martial arts and yoga when my yoga teacher invited me to become her apprentice. She suggested I take a course in Anatomy and Physiology first– and when I did, “my hair caught fire,” (not really, but I became utterly engrossed!). I had received acupuncture on many occasions and found it helpful and curative. I realized that I could make this my life’s work. Once I looked into the education and practice of Oriental Medicine, I never looked back!

Visiting Malia is a relaxing and expanding experience. For those used to acupuncture, taking the pulse, looking at the tongue and asking questions about behaviors of the body will be natural. But when it’s your first time, it can feel like a new world. One filled with possibilities and healing.  Seeking the natural approach to a healthy mind and body is one process Malia loves sharing with her clients. Her goal as a health care professional is to actively listen and work with a person to find out a plan that helps the body find balance, healthy internal function and freedom from pain. She continues, “I want to understand what my patient is experiencing and wants to achieve, health-wise, and to use Traditional Chinese Medicine to not only develop a treatment plan, but to start treatment, on the table, at that visit.”

Malia treats many people who have chronic pain along with joint and muscle dysfunction, but she also has deep clinical experience addressing a patient’s hormonal and emotional imbalances, addictions, respiratory illnesses, strokes, concussions and traumatic injuries.

Malia is available for appointments at Pohala clinic on Monday through Thursday. Please call the Pohala Clinic office for her schedule.

Malia loves the challenge of helping people reach their health goals through balancing the energy of the body and the mind.  Acupuncture provides relief for menopause hot flashes, anxiety, insomnia, addiction, colds, stroke, concussions, traumatic injuries, migraines, cramps and more.

Visit Malia and learn about acupuncture and how it can help you find relief and the health needed to live a stable and happy life.

Naturopath and Acupuncturist Paresh Shelat in Portland, Oregon

Paresh H. Shelat, ND, L.Ac

We welcome practitioner Paresh Shelat to the Pohala Clinic team. Dr. Shelat works as a naturopathic primary care physician and licensed acupuncturist with a focus on whole body health.  We asked him to tell us more about his medicine philosophy, his education and his treatment and management goals as a health care professional.

“Your Body, Your Choice”

When I first meet a person, I want to understand the stories and experiences that have led them to where they are today.  Establishing and creating a rapport that allows the person to feel comfortable in my office leads to change and optimal health. It’s about the relationship I have with the people who have come to me for help. I truly believe in the idea of your body, your choice. I help people see their available options and we work together to make a choice that creates health and well being.

A Western and Eastern Approach

I believe it is essential to have an understanding of both paradigms, sometimes the terms naturopath and allopath (a western approach to medicine)  are used to describe the differences.  I work with patients to make informed decisions about how they want to dictate the outcomes of their health- this often involves both eastern and western practices.  There are times where the western standard of care is necessary and when the deviation from the standard of care can be safely completed under proper supervision.

Naturopath and Acupuncture Education 

I started off working in massage therapy. This opened up the path of discovery to the intricate world of medicine (both allopathic and naturopathy).   Graduating with a certificate in massage therapy led me to Johnson State College where I earned my B.Sc degree in Wellness & Alternative Medicine.  From here, I was able to attend the National University of Natural Medicine where I completed a dual degree program in both Naturopathy and Chinese Medicine. (Doctor of Naturopathy, Masters of Acupuncture). Upon completion graduation from NUNM, I finished a three-year residency in 2017.

I enjoy working with patients who are motivated and open to the possibility of achieving optimal health.  Unfortunately, there is no magical protocol or technique that will work for everyone.  With that said, the patients’ ability to have patience and an understanding that finding the root cause may take time is crucial. This leads to a collaboration that creates health and well being.

Please call Pohala Clinic to book an appointment with Dr. Shelat.

 

 

Portland, Oregon Acupuncturist Malia Susee Answers Your Questions about Acupuncture

Malia Susee Portland, Oregon Acupuncture

Portland, Oregon Acupuncturist Malia Susee answers your questions about her practice:

 

What is in your life personally that helps you have a better understanding of your clients?

I don’t have a personal superpower or ace-in-the-hole for understanding others. I’m curious, though, and fascinated by what folks have to say about their health. I’ve traveled a lot and worked with all kinds of people, and I try to put myself in other people’s shoes (figuratively speaking. Don’t worry– I’ll leave your footwear alone when you’re on my table.) The cool thing about Traditional Chinese Medicine is that it doesn’t judge, and that it doesn’t separate mind from body. It supplies an elegant framework for understanding people and dis-ease, and I find that quite helpful.

 

What is your view on western medicine (allopathic)  v. eastern (naturopathic) medicine?

 Naturopathic medicine’s roots are European (Western). Acupuncture’s roots are Chinese (officially referred to as “Oriental” [Oriental describing a thing, not a person], as in Oriental Medicine, of which Traditional Chinese Medicine is a subset). Oriental medicine is holistic in nature and is an excellent complement to naturopathic and allopathic medicine. I am grateful to have all of these modalities as options for our healing and feel privileged to work with practitioners of each. 

 

Steroids, Allergies and Bipolar Disorder: Q&A with Portland Nurse Practitioner Julie Foster

Julie Foster-Pohala Clinic
Julie Foster Nurse Practitioner in Portland, Oregon

Bipolar disorder author Julie A. Fast has been a client of mine for over 10 years.   We often discuss over the counter and prescribed medications that can cause mood swings for people with bipolar disorder. She’s currently writing an article on the topic and asked me to describe my process of prescribing steroids if a person has bipolar disorder or depression and what I use instead of a steroid when helping a client who has bipolar disorder or depression manage allergies or asthma.

Julie A Fast:  Julie, When you have a client with bipolar who has severe allergies, how do you talk with them about the effects of steroids on bipolar disorder if they have an allergy doctor who wants to prescribe prednisone? What is the plan if the person can’t take steroids, but they have terrible allergies?  Steroids are known to affect the mood. For many people with mood disorders, they can cause mania and depression. 

Julie Foster: In general I do everything I can to avoid steroids in the general population whether it be for allergies or other needs. However with my Bipolar patients,  I am extra cautious. Unless I have exhausted all other options and the person is finding no relief either completely miserable or their breathing is comprised I do not prescribe.

Allergies are on the rise as we are exposed to more environmental debris and toxins and the effects of modernism on our immune systems.  Here are my suggestions for clients who want to manage allergies without the use of steroidal drugs.

  1. Look at the diet. Many allergies come from the foods we eat.  Eating a healthy diet can be hard for people with mood disorders as food is often used for comfort, but small changes can make a difference. Look for what is called a clean diet, one free of preservatives, hormones and GMO food.  When possible, limit refined sugars (look at the label and if it says high fructose corn syrup- choose something else) and white carbohydrates and go for natural fruits and vegetables. This is never easy when you are not feeling well, but over time you will feel better and will hopefully have less allergies- which was the original goal!
  2. Think about your life rhythm.  This includes the circadian rhythm of sleep and the rhythm to your work and relationships. How is the stress in you life? Our bodies are connected to our minds. A high stress level can affect the immune system that then affects our ability to handle allergens.
  3. Try healthy remedies. Homeopathic remedies including Sabadila, Euphrasia comp and Allergist.  Use Vitamin C up to your bowel tolerance (if the tummy has trouble, lower the dose) and add steaming and sweating to your daily regime.  Use an air purifier at home and try a honey remedy (Julie, explain this one- what do you do with the 1 tsp of honey?)

Julie A. Fast:   Julie, when you have bipolar disorder, it’s essential you check everything you put in your body to make sure it doesn’t lead to mood swings. How do you help clients figure out this maze of treatments and medications when they are having trouble  breathing as well as having mood swings?

Julie Foster:  Some of the herbal and supplement options for allergies can affect the mood of a person with bipolar which is why I go with the above plan first.  Congestion from allergies comes up when the body cannot eliminate properly. Another natural option for managing allergies is proper digestion.    Acupuncture is a good option as well as massage and maintenance through osteopathic or chiropractic adjustments. People with bipolar disorder and depression can find steroid free ways to manage allergies and asthma.

Please call to make an appointment with Julie Foster or another member of the Pohala Clinic professionals.