Melissa Lo on Discovery

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My name is Melissa Lo. I'm a licensed acupuncturist. I went to school at Cal State University Northridge for my undergrad in biology, and then I went to Dongguk University of L.A., which is a acupuncture school. I became an acupuncturist because when I was growing up, I used to do a lot of ballet. So I had a really bad injury in my hip, that actually was not getting any better through traditional Western techniques; chiropractics, physical therapy. So my mom actually dragged me to this old school acupuncturist in my city, and it was the only thing that worked for me. I actually got to avoid doing surgery, which was one of the treatments the doctors had recommended.

There's a lot of different reasons as to why back pain can occur. Obviously, if you have an acute trauma, having an injury is definitely one of the primary reasons. But when we treat and diagnose for back pain, we're actually looking at the root cause. If you have a patient, for example, someone who did have a car accident, versus maybe an elderly grandparent who has chronic back pain, it's actually different type. So when we diagnose, we actually have to figure out what triggered the back pain. So acupuncture has been around for thousands of years, but it's actually a technique that we use continuously. Just like with anything, a time passes, people start noticing that certain like, specific body parts actually correlated with health disorders.

So acupuncture is the use of very, very fine needles to help stimulate acupuncture points. As you can see, there's all these channels and all these points. Each one of these channels are related to meridian pathways, and each one of these points can be used to help with stimulating for certain conditions and disorders. So when we use needle therapy, we're actually trying to target specific points to get energy flowing. So especially since we're talking about back pain, we can actually do distal points, local regions, but also parts that are further away from the body to help with whatever condition we're focusing on. In Eastern medicine, our belief is that qi and blood all correlate together. So when you have pain, it's actually blockage in different regions of the body.

So when we use the needle therapy, it stimulates the Chi, the energy, to help reduce pain, to help improve that area. Our belief is all about making sure that the energies move consistently. So needle therapy is very beneficial, but it's not the only complementary medicine we do use. For example, in my practice, we actually integrate traditional Tui Na, which is a traditional type of Asian massage that follows the energy pathways at these acupressure points. Traditional Chinese herbal treatment is actually really helpful. It's a natural type of medicine for patients who can't take drugs like Vicodin, painkillers, things like that. The traditional herbs are more food-based.

So something as simple as goji berries, which is actually really commonly known right now, it's a traditional herb that we use to help with detoxing the liver. I do believe that there should be an integration of Eastern and Western med, because in the end, you're looking at the benefits for the patients, and some patients unfortunately can't get the best result from Western med. It's actually becoming more common, because as time passes, we've seen a lot of patients go through the traditional Western route, and they don't get the relief, especially when you're talking about back pain, especially when you do something like cortisone shots, or maybe even have some mild surgery. A lot of times, unfortunately, some patients don't get any relief, or sometimes even get a little bit worse.

So a lot of the patients who are pretty much at their wit's end try to look for other complementary medicines, and acupuncture is one of the top ones that are out there.

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