Acupuncture for Pandemic and Work from Home Stress
Earlier this year, Microsoft announced the permanent addition of its work from home program, which allows employees to clock in remotely for fifty percent of the week without requiring manager approval. Though many flock to this option, working at home over the course of the pandemic has brought with it tremendous changes in ergonomics. Most people did not have a standing desk or ergonomic chairs. One of my patients set their laptop on top of their dresser—and then stood inside the bottom drawer so they could reach it! Functional, sure, but not optimal.
I spoke with Donna Turner, LAC about the rise in stress levels and injury related to increased work from home hours and poor ergonomics. Donna practices a distal style of acupuncture in which she places needles along an energetic path associated with specific organs that correlate to different functions, and she has found success in treating the variety of issues that come with working at a sub-optimal work station.
Within the last year, stress across the board have risen to stratospheric levels. Donna mentions that she’s seen the physical manifestations of stress increase in frequency as well as severity. In the past, symptoms like jaw pain, headaches, and neck pain though common were mild and expected from long hours of tech work. Now, pain levels more often affect sleep and work performance. When doing an intake, Donna relies largely on verbal cues from the patient rather than visual or postural assessments. She has frequently found that those who work in essential roles have been making up a larger portion of her appointments since the start of the pandemic. Concurrently, their stress levels rank among the highest.
A standard treatment starts with treating multiple areas at once. A benefit unique to acupuncture is that one point can affect multiple areas. Dragon 2, for example, will treat the neck and upper back while simultaneously calming the nervous system, assisting the body’s natural impulse to switch between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Oftentimes, during the course of the treatment, the patient will report the way they feel as the needles do their work and, based on their feedback, Donna can adjust the position of the needles to provide a more beneficial treatment. Other locations for therapeutic stress relief are along the points correlated with the lungs, large intestine, and kidneys. During the session, while the needles are left do their work, Donna will periodically check in with the patient and adjust points based on feedback. If the patient reports any new changes in where they feel tension or pain, she will address that by adding needles in different areas.
Efficacy of the treatments vary from patient to patient. Some may experience immediate relief from their symptoms, and others may take a few before the effects begin to take hold. With the increase in stress and poor ergonomics, the results trend toward the more immediate. If the patient combines acupuncture with massage or physical therapy, then Donna implements a less aggressive plan with fewer points addressed in each session to prevent overtreatment. Overall, Donna has found success treating patients experiencing increased levels of stress and pain, and she encourages anyone curious about acupuncture to give it a try.