Orthopedic Acupuncture

Traditional acupuncture focuses on general balance of the meridians to support a sense of overall wellbeing and relaxation. While beneficial for many, our clinic focuses on Orthopedic Acupunctures which is designed for the specific treatment of pain and conditions related to the spine, joints, discs, nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Our goal is to help restore neurological balance in the body, which in turn restores normal function to the supporting structures and tissue.  When the right diagnosis and treatments are administered, changes can occur rapidly.  Muscles get stronger, movement improves as postural support is balanced, pain lessens and life becomes more enjoyable. As all of our acupuncture is provided by doctors, and not just someone with a license to perform acupuncture, your care will be based on neurological, orthopedic, and physiotherapy exams, testing, and diagnosis.

Our success rate derives from the fact that unlike traditional acupuncturists who continue to focus on the energy aspects of acupuncture, we have developed a unique method of evaluation and administration of acupuncture that focuses on the impact acupuncture has on the neurological and mechanical function of the body.  Dr. Steven Vanden Hoek, DC, FASA has blended a variety of acupuncture styles (German, French, Japanese, Taiwanese, Korean, and American) with Applied Kinesiology, Pulse Diagnosis and Orthopedic Dry Needling & Point Injection Protocols to create a unique one-of-a-kind treatment here in the St. Louis area. 

If you have had acupuncture in the past, chances are this will be different. Many acupuncturist will have patients in quiet rooms with soft music and low lighting for up to an hour to help nurture a feeling of relaxation. Our treatments are done in a more classical therapy-style room and only last from 5 min to 20 min as our techniques are focused on stimulate the healing response rapidly, and not on relaxation. If saving time and getting results are important to your let us show you how our unique evaluation, and individually tailored treatments can provide the needed support that you haven't been getting from other sources. Scroll down to learn more about the different techniques often used in our clinic.

Dry Needling

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Dry Needling is a term used to distinguish the treatment of trigger points (focal muscle spasm) with the use of an acupuncture needle from that of the treatment of a trigger point with an injection of Rx medication by a MD/DO. Like acupuncture, the trigger point - aka a “knot” or “tight band” or “taught muscle” - is treated with the use of a thin filament (acupuncture) needle. Often times the area treated correlates with a well established acupuncture point, while other times it relates to a lesser known secondary point, or no charted acupuncture point at all - but merely a local region of irritation. While this is one of the oldest techniques used in acupuncture and known as Ashi acupuncture, the term Dry Needling was established by MD’s and PT’s to help clarify to the public that this technique is for the treatment of the muscle and not the flow of energy.

While very effective, this tends to be one of the more uncomfortable styles of therapy as it generally requires irritation of the area with turning and alternating the depth and angle of the needle at the site of the problem to acquire the desired results. Most patients begin to notice a decrease in muscle tension following their first treatment.

Point Injections / Homeopuncture

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One of the greatest gifts to healing is natures abundance of natural healing compounds found in plants, animals, and the earth. We have been blessed with so many natural materials that help create balance and healing within the body. It is the use of these gifts in the form of homeopathics, botanical, and natural substances like vitamins, minerals, herbals, etc. that allow us to impact the human potential so rapidly. At Medical Alternatives we have been providing acupuncture injections / homeopuncture since 2011 with amazing results for orthopedic and pain based conditions. This technique is an excellent choice for those with re-occuring trigger points, pain with movement such as a stiff neck or tight lower back, nerve pain and secondary disfunction from old injuries that healed poorly. By stimulating a healing response through ultra low-dose natural medicines, the body restarts the natural healing response which has been preventing the body from returning to normal function.

While many people fear needles, and particularly injections, we have found that for most people the treatment is very well tolerated with only minimal and temporary discomfort. For most patients, the savings in time (both the duration of the visit and the number of treatments needed) is well worth the minimal increase in discomfort.

Auricular Therapy / ASP

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Auricular (Ear) Therapy is a general term used to describe the use of the ear as the primary area of treatment for the rest of the body. This style of acupuncture is also referred to as Imaging as an image of the entire body can be overlaid onto the ear - and the area of problem can be treated via the ear. While this sounds odd, this technique was first developed by the French, and later fine-tuned by the Chineses and Germans. The direct one-to-one correlation of site-of-problem to location of treatment point allows for quick treatment. This style has been adopted by the US military as a quick and effective way to treat soldiers on the battlefield with use of temporary needles placed in the ear which then allow the person to continue about their duties.

About half of patients receiving this type of therapy complain of a temporary discomfort at the site of needle placement, the discomfort resolves within seconds to just a few minutes.

Electrical Acupucture

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Electrical Acupuncture is an excellent tool for the treatment of joint and nerve pain, as well as local inflammation and swelling. This technique is used for conditions like sciatica, tennis elbow, osteoarthritis of the knee, foraminal stenosis pain, or pain from bulging or herniated discs. While this may seems like one of the most uncomfortable forms of therapy, it is actually quite pleasant and one of the most relaxing styles as the patient generally lays or sits for upwards of 20 min while getting therapy designed to calm the nerves and local tissues.

Myofascial Release, Cupping & Taping

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Cupping has been used classically by acupuncturist to move blood to the surface of the body to help resolve “stagnation” of energy to an area or meridian channel. While well within the realm of asian medicine, cupping (and myofascial therapy in general) can be so much more. Anyone who had myofascial release five or ten years ago knows that it use to be painful and leave large bruises as it was thought that we needed to “break up adhesions” by pushing and scraping the tissues harder. This notion has been proved antiquated by multipole research projects using diagnostic ultrasound imaging as well as years of clinical results showing milder forms of therapy effective. While most myofascial therapies focus on a compression of the tissue by the use of rigid tools (and yes we do some of this as well), cupping and taping focuses on lifting the skin to help mobilize the tissue underneath. Think of it as having static cling of your pants to your leg. You can rub the fabric over your leg to discharge the energy and release the “adhesion”, or you can lift the fabric and shake it to release the “adhesion”. While not exactly the same, the concept is similar. Lifting, and sometimes compressing, the tissue gently helps restore normal movement of the skin as it attaches to the underlying soft tissues.

We have been using kinsiotape and cupping since 2002, and are still amazed at the benefits we see every day. That being said, this should be a short term therapy to help get your healing back on target. If you find you are consistently having to tape, massage, foam role, or mobilize your soft tissue repeatedly to “keep going”, you have a larger underlying problem that needs to be resolved - or you will never escape the viscous cycle of soft tissue management. Talk to us about how to help you get back on tract with your healing.