Contemporary Medical Acupuncture Program

Neurofunctional Treatment of Pain with Movement Disorders

Continuing Education courses offered at McMaster University are expanding the horizons of health care professionals.

By Dr. Alejandro Elorriaga Claraco
November 1, 2000

Dr. A. Fargas-Babjak
Dr. A. Elorriaga-Claraco, MD (Spain)

The McMaster University Health Sciences Continuing Education Department initiated a University-based education program in “Medical Acupuncture for the Treatment of Pain and Functional Problems: A Practical Integrated Approach” for health care professionals interested in adding acupuncture to their therapeutic repertoire.

Under the direction of Dr. Angelica Fargas-B abjak, Professor of Anesthesia, McMaster University, and Dr. A. Elorriaga-Claraco, MD (Spain), Director of the Acupuncture/Pain Clinic, Hamilton Health Sciences Corporation, along with a team of experts in the field of acupuncture, a comprehensive program was developed. Since the spring of 1999, this five part course has been offered twice a year.
Medical Acupuncture is a dynamic treatment approach, based on traditional acupuncture and current biomedical science, easy to integrate into conventional practices. Therapeutic insertion of solid needles in various combinations and patterns is the foundation of this approach.

Acupuncture effects on humans include muscle relaxation, pain relief, changes in autonomic activity (vasomotor tone, cardiac rhythm, peristalsis), diverse neuroendocrine and immune responses, general relaxation and a feeling of psycho-physical well being.

Painful conditions most responsive to acupuncture treatment include headaches, myofascial pain, acute & chronic joint and soft tissue problems, and sports injuries.

In November 1997, an independent panel of experts at the US National Institutes of Health, after examining extensive available scientific evidence, concluded that:

“Acupuncture is effective in treating adult post-operative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting, and in post-operative dental pain. There are other situations such as addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma where acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment or an acceptable alternative or to be included in a comprehensive management program.”

During the spring of 2000, a three day program extended to “Acupuncture for Sports Injuries: An Integrated Approach” offered a systematic approach to the treatment of sports injuries and common orthopaedic conditions. Sophisticated musculoskeletal examination techniques were combined with information from pathophysiology of sports injuries and acupuncture in order to generate more precise and effective treatments. Integration of acupuncture with manual techniques, such as joint and soft tissue manipulation, was emphasized all throughout the course.

This intermediate level course was designed to help acupuncture practitioners integrate information from gold standard examination techniques, injuries pathophysiology, and concepts of modern medical acupuncture, into effective treatments for sports injuries and common musculoskeletal problems. The basis of the system is the use of a clinical model of multi-level therapeutic acupuncture inputs at different structural and/or functional levels, i.e. local inputs, axial inputs, regional and/or systemic regulatory inputs, and reflex inputs.

Anatomical regions explored include the neck, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, leg and ankle. The greatest emphasis of the course is on the fundamentals and principles of modern medical acupuncture and gold standard clinical assessment and diagnosis, as they apply to musculoskeletal pain problems in general and sports injuries in particular. The goal of this program is to enhance the practitioner’s diagnostic and acupuncture therapeutic skills in the treatment of common sports injuries, and his/her ability to integrate these treatments with other manual techniques.

The faculty of acupuncture for Sports Injuries include experts in the field of Sports Medicine as:

Dr. Alejandro Elorriaga Claraco, a Sports Medicine specialist from Spain, with fourteen years of experience in the diagnosis and treatment of sports injuries. He has worked extensively with athletes of all levels in events ranging from popular races to the Olympics (World Basketball 89,91,94, World Judo 93, World Track & Field 99, Sydney 2000), and has made acupuncture the main part of his sports injuries treatments since 1995. Dr. Elorriaga is co-director of the McMaster program “Acupuncture for the Treatment of Pain and Functional Problems” and is also regular faculty in the UCLA “Medical Acupuncture for Physicians” program.

Mr. Ravi Sakhuja, an experienced physiotherapist and manual therapist in private practice, has treated sports injuries combining acupuncture with manual techniques, laser, and other inputs for almost two decades. He has worked in local and international events, such as Spectator games and World University games. Mr. Sakhuja has lectured nationally and internationally, for over 12 years for the Acupuncture Foundation of Canada, has been an examiner for 9 years and past president (1996-97). He is current faculty of the McMaster program “Acupuncture for the Treatment of Pain and Functional Problems”

Dr. Janice Harvey, a Sports Medicine specialist from McMaster University, with abundant national and international experience, including Commonwealth Games ‘96 and being Chief medical officer of the Canadian team at the World University Games ‘98 in Italy. She is a graduate of the McMaster Acupuncture program (Spring 99).

Dr. Mark Scappaticci, an internationally recognized sports chiropractor, specialist in soft tissue manipulation, with great national and international experience in the integration of acupuncture with manual techniques for the treatment of sports injuries and the enhancement of sports performance in amateurs and professional athletes (Atlanta ‘96, World Track & Field ‘99, Sydney 2000, NHL players). He is also a graduate of the McMaster Acupuncture program (Spring 99).

Dr. Mark Lindsay, a world renowned chiropractor specialist in the treatment of soft tissue injuries, with abundant national and international experience. Since 1993, Dr. Lindsay has worked with hundreds of athletes of all levels including world class skiers, professional hockey players, and track and field Olympic champions. He has participated in several World track and field championships, and Olympic games.

Due to the great comments and feedback from the participants, and increased demand, the Sports Injuries seminar will be offered again in the winter (January 2001) and again in the summer (June 2001). Among the evaluations of the course: “this was a practical approach”; “rationalized treatment approach”; “hand-on approach directly applicable to anyone practicing manual therapy and/or treating musculoskeletal conditions”; “small student/teacher ratio”; “variety of excellent learning resources”; “very relevant and helpful for evaluating and treating musculoskeletal injuries”; “anyone interested in becoming involved with the healing process as an active participant should attend”; and “I will highly recommend this course to my colleagues”.

The CE Acupuncture Courses are open to licensed health professionals with acupuncture within the scope of their practice, such as MD, MB, DO (USA), DC and PT. Participants are expected to attend the entire program and to schedule at least 10 hours of home study between units.

Courses on Traditional Chinese Medicine and herbal remedies are scheduled to begin in January 2001, as well as courses in TCM approach for women’s health problems and TCM for prevention directed to the aging population, chaired by Dr. Min Tian, (MD, TCM Specialist, D. Phil).