HOUGHTON - If you ask Corey Bacon what conditions are helped by treatment with acupuncture, he'll give you a one-word answer - everything.
Corey is the owner and sole practitioner at Mountain Thunder Acupuncture in Houghton. At his practice, situated in a small log cabin off U.S. 41 near the Portage Lake Golf Course, he offers patients a wide range of confidential treatment options including acupuncture, acupressure, deep tissue massage, Tuina, Shiatsu, and Chinese Herbal Medicine.
The Flint, Mich., native earned his master's degree in acupuncture and oriental medicine from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in Portland, Ore., where he spent four years studying eastern healing arts (acupuncture, Qi Gong, Tai Ji, Chinese herbal medicine and Asian bodywork systems) as well as simplified versions of western medicine classes (anatomy and physiology, living anatomy, pathology, clinical diagnosis, pharmacology and structural diagnoses). After graduation in 2009, he opened a practice briefly in Portland before relocating to the Copper Country in 2010.
Corey Bacon is seen at his practice Mountain Thunder Acupuncture in Houghton.
Corey said while there are a number of conditions acupuncture can be helpful for, the two major categories that it really excels at relate to pain and problems with the nervous system.
"The needles work well for what we call excess stagnation," he said. "For example, stroke recovery and Bell's palsy; all kinds of recovery from surgery and any kind of pain or neuralgia."
Stagnation, Corey said, is a blockage.
In Chinese medicine, treatment involves working with an interconnected system of energy pathways on the body, called meridians.
"Energy flows like water, so when water gets blocked it stops flowing," he said. "The body, as an energetic system, is constantly trying to flow; it's trying to move like water."
Stagnation can be caused by trauma - physical, mental or emotional, he said, and it's usually how the emotions play out that creates stagnation in our body.
"One of the ways Chinese medicine works is just moving the stagnation," he said. "Acupuncture works really good at that."
Because Chinese medicine utilizes all systems of the body to determine a diagnoses for symptoms, Corey said he requires detailed information from each new patient. New patients can expect the first session to take about an hour and a half, starting by going over the seven-page intake form the patient completes before coming in.
The intake form inquires about family health history, personal medical history, medications/supplements, diet/lifestyle, personal life and questions pertaining to both men and women specifically.
Treatment depends on the acupuncturist, Corey said, but because he utilizes all of his skills, performing bodywork and herbal medicine, the treatment time varies.
"Our first initial visit, I go over the form with them and answer any questions that may be relevant," he said. "Then I ask them specific questions about what their primary complaint is."
Afterwards, Corey said he takes the patient's pulse.
"Pulse taking in Chinese medicine is very different than in Western Medicine," he said.
Feeling three different spots on each wrist at two different depths on each spot allows him to feel for the rate, strength and quality of the blood as it moves through. This process may take between one and 15 minutes.
"Each position is related to a different internal organ," he said. "There are 12 organ systems ... it's a set of functions within the body."
Also during the visit, Corey said he looks at the tongue to check the color, thickness and consistency of the tongue coat, and the color, shape, and quality of the tongue body.
As far as pain during treatment, Corey said it depends on the patient and placement of the needles. Many times the patient feels nothing at all, but sometimes there is brief pain.
"Points on the hands and feet tend to hurt more than body points," he said. "But when it does hurt, it hurts so briefly you don't have time to defend yourself."
Corey said he typically uses two sets of needles during treatment, and often begins by helping patients relax with a technique called Qi Gong.
On the other hand, diagnosing patients who are on medications can be a difficult task for Corey.
"Sixty to 70 percent of the people who come see me are on medications, which change the pulse and the tongue," he said. "Medications can make it difficult for us to treat, specifically because our treatment is based on Chinese medicine diagnosis."
That in mind, Corey recommends before going on a medication or getting surgery, unless it's a severe or life-threatening condition, to try acupuncture or herbal medicine first "if your Dr. is OK with it."
Though it should be said that the medicine can also work with western medicine by giving additive treatment or moderating the side effects of medications.
"You're better off trying some sort of alternative medicine and it can be for any condition," Corey said. "Chinese medicine, in an ideal world, is a preventative medicine. Therefore, the earlier you start treatment for a condition the better."
Mountain Thunder Acupuncture is located at 46741 U.S. 41 in Houghton. For more information, call 523-5646, email email@example.com or visit mtnthunderacu.com.
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