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Home > Newsletters > December 2004 >

Ask the Doctor

Q: I am experiencing impotency at the age of 49. I have been treated for diabetes in the past and also fell out of tree 3 years ago that seems to have started my inability to achieve an erection. I have tried Viagra, but it doesn't work. I have some slight pain in my right testicle and groin area and have been checked by urologist and primary doctor who have found no cause. My wife was giving me a massage and I told her about the pain I had when I fell out of the tree. There seems to be a lump on my sciatic nerve, I am considering acupuncture for help. Can acupuncture cure my impotency and relieve the pain in my testicle?

A: Incidence of impotency, also called "male erectile dysfunction", can be an age-related problem that increases with age and is seen in 25% of males 65 and older. Letís look at the three factors involved in a normal male erection. First, is the bodyís autonomic nervous system or "involuntary nervous system" supplying the nerve supply to the penis. Secondly, is the musculature of the penis and surrounding area including the pelvic floor. Thirdly, is the blood supply to the area through the arteries and veins. These neuro-vascular and muscular factors all contribute to initiating and maintaining an erection.

Your history of diabetes and the trauma of your fall 3 years ago seem to have disturbed your bodyís internal mechanisms leaving an imbalance which may be contributing to the impotency you are now experiencing. Since your primary care Doctor and an Urologist have physically examined you and find no physiological or structural damage for example a rip, tear or blockage, I believe that acupuncture and Oriental medicine could be very helpful to you.

An acupuncturist is trained in Chinese Medical examination and diagnosis and adheres to a system of evaluation that encompasses the whole person. Since your main complaint is impotency, I would start there. In Traditional Oriental Medicine we look at that type of problem in terms of a Kidney Yang or Jing deficiency, Spleen and Heart deficiency or Liver Fire and Shen disturbance problem. The root of the impotency may begin with the Kidney energy due to the depletion of this Kidney energy as we age. Our goal would be to tonify, warm Kidney Yang and enrich Kidney Jing. Pain in TCM comes either from an excess or deficiency, cold, damp or heat condition. If itís an excess condition it could be a stagnation of Qi and blood which, when blocked, causes a sharp stabbing pain. Pain from a deficiency condition feels empty and constant. Our goal would be to increase circulation of Qi and blood, warm or cool the channels and dry the damp condition. A thorough examination and evaluation would identify your specific testicle pain issues and address them accordingly. You mentioned that Viagra didnít work in your case. Viagra is a drug that works by inhibiting the breakdown of certain body chemicals which relax the muscles surrounding the penis to allow more blood flow to the area which is what maintains an erection. Your acupuncturist would take this information and the other symptoms you mentioned and come up with a treatment plan that may include acupuncture, herbal medicine, breathing exercises, nutrition and other lifestyle choices that would improve your body as a whole system which should help to resolve your main complaint which is the impotency and pain you are experiencing. Overall, because we look at you as a person not a disease or a symptom, we can work together to improve quality of life. I hope I have encouraged you to search out an acupuncturist who you can work with in your personal journey to heightened health and well-being.

Q: Can acupuncture be an effective treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome?

A: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a common painful disorder caused by a compression of the median nerve between the carpal ligament and other structures within the carpal tunnel. This "carpal tunnel" area is located where your wrist attaches to your hand on the palm side. This is an area of limited space and an increase in pressure produces pain, tingling and numbness in the hand and forearm. This "pressure" may be from inflamed tendons or carpal joints, a recent or malhealed fracture, tumors or occasionally a congenital abnormality. Also diseases such as diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatic disorders that cause inflammation to the joints and connective tissue throughout the body. Often other factors such as pregnancy or repetitive use of the hands or following an injury to the wrists can cause this syndrome to occur. Sometimes no underlying cause is found.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be viewed in traditional Oriental medicine as a liver disorder, bi syndrome, qi and blood stagnation or a combination of them all. The liver energy is associated with the tendons, ligaments and tissues and maintains the free flow of qi throughout the body. When our liver qi and blood is stagnant or deficient it causes our body's qui to not flow smoothly and freely causing the tendons, ligaments and tissues to become dry and brittle like a piece of wood from lack of qi, blood and yin fluids. This can make them inflexible, spasm or become numb. Bi syndrome is pain, soreness or numbness due to obstruction in the circulation of qi and blood in the channels and muscular-skeletal areas due to invasion of external wind, cold, dampness or heat. Qi and blood stagnation causes pain unless it is free flowing, it moistens, warms and circulates healing yin-fluids and qi to the body and in your case to the carpal tunnel area of the wrist.

Oriental medicine can be very effective in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome. The relief of pain often comes when an assessment of the root cause is taken and treated accordingly. For instance, a patient who has dull, tight headaches, sluggishness and loss of appetite recognizes that when these symptoms act up the carpal tunnel pain also worsens. A realization that other symptoms that may appear unrelated are in fact part of a pattern that is discovered during the course or treatment in TCM.

There is much to understand and discover about the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome through the eyes of a TCM practitioner. We recognize however that the first thing is to relieve your symptoms of pain, tingling and numbness. We do that by invigorating the blood to clear the channels and collateral's therefore enhancing the flexibility and integrity of the carpal joints and connective tissues. Warming or relieving pressure to the swollen joints and tissues and activating qi and blood circulation to relieve inflammation, swelling and pain. Through acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and other methods within Oriental medicine we work with your individual body and constitution to stop your pain and suffering.

About our Doctor:

Linda Read Shelby L.Ac., M.S.O.M is a board certified acupuncturist, herbologist and traditional Oriental medical practitioner in Los Angeles, California. She received her Masters of Science degree from Samra University in Los Angeles with Post graduate studies in Beijing China. She is in private practice in Woodland Hills California. Office phone number is 323 219-0149. She specializes in infertility, womenís health and pain management.

This Month's Articles

December 2004
Volume 2, Number 8

What Can Traditional Chinese Medicine Do For You During the Flu Season

The Difficult Problem of Mold Infestation - Part II-A

An Introduction to Medical QiGong

Recent Research

Ask The Doctor


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