What is Dry Needling and what is the difference between Dry Needling and Acupuncture? 




Dry Needling is a treatment technique where thin filiform needles are inserted through the skin into pathological areas of the muscle known as "trigger points" for the purpose of relieving myofascial pain and muscle spasm. These are the same needles used in traditional acupuncture therapy, they are solid rather than hollow, and no medication is injected.

Dry needling is used in conjunction with other manual therapy techniques and therapeutic exercise.

When performing dry needling, there may be a "twitch response" where the specific band of muscle involuntarily contracts in response to insertion of the needle.  Beneficial effects can occur without elicitation of the twitch response.  Sometimes electrotherapy is also applied with the trigger point needling technique, this is referred to as electroacupuncture. If electroacupuncture is considered appropriate, small clips are attached to specific needling locations and a mild electrical current is applied. Electrical muscle stimulation aids in stimulating blood flow, reducing pain and relieving muscular spasm. 

In the State of California, the only providers who can legally perform these types of needling techniques are licensed acupuncturists and medical doctors. A licensed acupuncturist's education and training in needling techniques requires a Master's degree obtained after 3 years of education and training. 

Compared to Dry Needling, Acupuncture, when applied as a form of traditional Chinese medicine, uses acupuncture points on the surface of the body that are located along "meridians" that correspond with the internal organs and the energies associated with those organs. Traditional acupuncture techniques aim to relieve congestion of energy and blood, thereby restoring circulation and reducing symptoms associated with said qi (energy) stagnation. 

Cupping & Graston, Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Techniques.

Most people are familiar with massage therapy and chiropractic adjustments, but not everyone is versed in the application of techniques like cupping (myofascial decompression or MDT) and the Graston Technique. 

Cupping (MDT) methods have been used for thousands of years as a treatment intervention aimed at relieving muscular pain, improving circulation and in some ancient theories, aiding the body in riding itself of disease or illness.

Recently, cupping has gained popularity after the 2016 Olympic Games when a rather well-known swimmer was seen with the trademark cupping circles on his body during competition. 

The benefits of cupping for musculoskeletal injuries include: Improved circulation to the injured tissue, relief of muscular tension and reduction of muscular pain. 

Clean plastic cups are placed on the skin and a pump device is used to pull air out of the cup, creating a negative pressure which pulls the tissue into the cup. This method is believed to help decompress the layers of tissue (fascia and muscle) under the skin where the cup has been placed.

Cupping Techniques

Static on static

Cup(s) are placed and left on a single location over a body region that remains still/immobile. 

Dynamic on static

Cup(s) are moved over the region being treated, using a massage lotion or oil as a buffer. The body area being treated does not move.

Static on Dynamic

Cup is left stationary while the patient moves the body part through a partial or full range of motion. For example: a cup is placed and left stationary on the quadriceps (front of the thigh) while the patient bends and extends their knee. 

dynamic on dynamic

A combination of moving the cup(s) while the patient also simultaneously moves the body area being treated. 

All of these variations of cupping therapy are performed with the ultimate goal of decreasing pain, promoting mobility and improving function. 

So how about Graston Technique? The Graston Technique is an instrument assisted soft tissue technique where a stainless steel tool is used to apply mild to moderate scraping over previously injured tissues. Much like how a stethescope amplifies heart sounds, the Graston tool amplifies the texture of the tissues under the skin. As the provider applies sweeping movements with the tool over the skin, certain regions will feel "grittier" or more coarse than others. This often signifies that these particular regions are where soft tissue adhesions are located and may be the source of altered mobility or pain. 

These effective and safe treatment modalities may be applied as a stand alone intervention but are most often applied along with other treatment interventions such as joint manipulation / chiropractic adjustments, active or passive sports massage and myofascial release techniques and exercise. Cupping and Graston therapy may both be applied to the same treatment area in the same visit. Cupping and Graston are great for the treatment of lower back pain, neck and shoulder pain, foot pain like plantar fasciitis/fasciosis, carpal tunnel syndrome, knee pain and MUCH more. 

To find out if chiropractic care, dry needling, acupuncture or cupping/Graston are the right treatment(s) for you, call the office, email or schedule an appointment NOW! 

"Cupping" at the 2016 Rio Olympics with Dr. Pierce

No, not the Dr. Pierce you are all familiar with! Dr. Kevin Pierce, Dr. Tara's husband!

Dr. Kevin is a part of the 2016 Olympics medical staff and was a part of a demonstration of cupping on the Today Show this morning! check out the video to learn a little bit about the treatment modality picking up steam at the Rio Games! With the likes of Michael Phelps enthusiastically jumping on board!

Dr. (Tara) Pierce also performs cupping in her Newport Beach chiropractic and acupuncture practice. To learn more about if this treatment might be right for you, contact the doc or set up an appointment today!

Pain in the Butt? Sciatica Scenarios.

Sciatica can be a real pain in the butt. Literally. But that isn't where it ends! For some folks, sciatica becomes a pain the the leg, or even a pain in the toe. For others, sciatica is numbingly difficult to deal with. Can't feel your foot? Sciatica may be to blame. 

This common affliction may be accompanied by lower back pain, but doesn't have to be. Sciatica is a real bummer, but IT CAN BE TREATED!

The term "Sciatica" refers to irritation of the sciatic nerve, the large nerve that accepts contribution from the lumbar and sacral roots after they emerge from the spinal cord. This is the main nerve that supplies the lower extremity. This nerve is a pretty big deal! 

Disc bulge impinging upon spinal nerve root. 

Disc bulge impinging upon spinal nerve root. 

The first step toward alleviating sciatica is diagnosing WHAT the nerve is being irritated by and WHERE that irritation is located along the nerve's pathway. 

Is the nerve impingement due to an intervertebral disc pinching a nerve root? Is it due to complications from advanced osteoarthritis leading to bone spur (osteophyte) formation occluding the space through which the nerve exits the spinal canal? Or is it due to nerve entrapment in the hip or glute due to muscular spasm or adhesions pinching the nerve as it travels through that region???

As you might imagine, figuring this out is not always easy, but luckily, that's what people like me are trained to do. If special imaging is determined to be appropriate, you will be provided with a prescription for an X-ray or MRI the same day as your visit by me (Dr. Pierce). 

The first step to successful treatment of sciatica is DIAGNOSIS. Then, based on the cause, a treatment plan can be implemented! More often than not, sciatica can be treated safely and efficiently with conservative care! 

Dr. Pierce offers treatments for sciatica ranging from lumbar traction (flexion/distraction), acupuncture and local area dry needling, electroacupuncture, chiropractic joint manipulation (adjustments), gently joint mobilization, cupping (myofascial decompression), therapeutic exercise (rehabilitation), deep muscle work (sports massage/trigger point therapy) and more. 

To get to the bottom of your pain, schedule an appointment today!  http://advancedocwellness.com/book/

Is Acupuncture Safe During Pregnancy?


Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for many common ailments experienced by pregnant women.  Modern acupuncture methods use strict protocols to ensure safe and hygienic treatment.  Studies have shown acupuncture during pregnancy to be an effective treatment option for stress, morning sickness, hip and low back pain, sciatica, breech position, mild to moderate depression and labor induction.

Acupuncture during pregnancy is similar to acupuncture for any other population with a couple of exceptions. Certain acupuncture points that are contraindicated during pregnancy are of course avoided. Deep needling around the abdomen and sacrum is also avoided during this time. Acupuncture has been shown to be extremely safe with minimal side effects.  With modern clean needle technique, side effects are limited to a possible small bruise. 

It is important to continue routine follow up visits with your birth care provider (OB-GYN and/or Midwife) throughout your pregnancy.  Acupuncture during pregnancy is a wonderful adjunct treatment to your regular care and can help you enjoy a more comfortable and relaxed pregnancy! 

Dr. Pierce has helped many women during pregnancy with acupuncture and chiropractic at her Newport Beach office for 4 years. Dr. Pierce is also certified in the Webster Technique, which is a specific chiropractic technique for women during pregnancy. To read more about the Webster Technique, CLICK HERE! To read more about acupuncture for labor induction CLICK HERE!