Meet Melissa Horton Kearney L.Ac
NCCAOM Diplomat of Oriental Medicine, MSAOM
Melissa’s interest in acupuncture started while in Japan, after receiving treatment for a sports injury. Inspired by the incredible benefits toward pain relief and accelerated recovery, she went on to become the first Westerner to obtain a degree in Acupuncture & Moxibustion from Morinomiya College of Medical Arts & Science in Osaka, Japan. She is also one of the first non-Asians to sit for and pass the national licensure board in Japan. Melissa then treated patients in the university clinic as a Medical Resident-equivalent while assisting in the school’s research department. Returning to the United States, Melissa completed a Master’s degree in Oriental Medicine while obtaining her NCCAOM Board Certification
Melissa’s primary specialties include pain management, women’s health, and sports medicine. She is board certified across a broad spectrum of treatment modalities which are a blend of Japanese and Western protocols including:
Tui Na massage
In her free time Melissa enjoys training in martial arts, organic gardening, reading and spending time with her family.
Acupuncture, moxibustion and herbs are the cornerstone of eastern medicine, a predominant form of medical treatment in Asia for thousands of years. Around 1800 acupuncture was introduced to the United States and has gradually been gaining prominence in the medical field. As such, acupuncture, moxibustion and herbal medicine have been subject to a vast array of evidence based studies and meta analysis. Once thought of as an alternative medicine it is clear that eastern modalities have a place along side western medical practices creating a truly integrative approach to both preventative medicine and treatment of acute and chronic aliments.
How does it work?
Studies have found a strong correlation between traditional acupuncture points and the sensory neural pathways. Think of an electrical circuit with a switch (acupuncture points) and a light bulb (area of pain/focus). You can screw in the light bulb every time you want light or you can go to the switch and allow the pathway to affect the bulb and turn it on. Similarly the acupuncture points can carry information through the biochemical and bioelectric pathways in the body. This is why we may use a point on your leg to treat a stomach issue. The analgesic and anti inflammatory benefits of acupuncture utilize and activate these sensory neural fibers and the biochemicals such as naturally occurring opioid neuropeptides (endorphins etc.)
Does it hurt?
This is the million dollar question. We have all seen some depiction of acupuncture whether it be a bear covered head to toe in needles from Kung Fu Panda or the one needle death technique in some poorly dubbed kung fu movie. The reality is not nearly as scary or sexy. The needles used in the clinic are about as thin as a strand of hair. They are so thin they are flexible and often no more than 5-20 are used. Most times patients hardly feel the needles and often ask if I have even put them in. Of course there are exceptions. It is still a needle and you may experience a slight pricking sensation and in rare instances some slight bruising. Once the needles are placed you are left to rest for 15-20 minutes and I often return to rooms to hear patients snoring and remarking that it was the best nap they have had in ages.
Because of the lack of an appropriate placebo most studied find it hard to quantify the effect of acupuncture. Unlike giving someone a sugar pill it is very hard to give them "fake" acupuncture. However there is much research being done and we are still learning about all the benefits eastern medicine has to offer. More information on the clinical research being done on acupuncture can be found on evidencebasedacupuncture.org and on sites like pubmed.
Treatment and Expectations
Progression of treatment
The first 1-3 treatments will focus on relieving the symptoms that directly affect quality of life.
As quality of life improves we will explore and treat the reasons for the disturbance.
Illness and pain exist on a spectrum and maintenance is necessary in order to prevent moving back towards the situation that affected our quality of life when we first sought treatment. This could be once every couple of weeks or once every couple of months.
What to expect
Often relief can be felt after the first treatment but the best and most lasting results involve a series of treatments.
It is good to remember that in most instances you did not get to this place over night so one treatment mostly likely will not solve everything. It's not magic and just as you would be willing to try different medications until you found the right fit, please be open to the fact that we may need to try different points to find the best treatment.
Although the results may be more gradual than some alternatives, there are little to no side effects to eastern medicine therapies.
If you are already in good health, congratulations! We help to keep you there by starting at step 3!
What We Treat
Although this list is not exhaustive it provides an idea of conditions that can be treated in the clinic.
If it hurts we can probably make it better.
Low back pain
If you are an athlete you know keeping your body at peak performance is necessary. Use acupuncture to help you recover from a hard training session or a grueling game. With little to no side effects it's an easy addition to your training.
For children we do not use needles as it can be frightening and stressful. Instead we rely on gentle techniques like moxibustion.
Stress & Anxiety
Some of the biggest culprits in many of today's illnesses. Even if you think you can "handle stress" your body still has a physiological reaction. Release some of it with acupuncture.
From menarche to menopause women's bodies are constantly in flux. When no two days are the same it makes sense that you would want a treatment that changes with you.
PMS (irritability, emotional flux, etc.)
Induction of labor
Symptoms of pregnancy (nausea, heartburn etc.)
Perimenopause/menopause (hot flashes, energy etc.)
Nothing is worse than training hard and being sidelined with an injury or having a minor ache turn into something debilitating like frozen shoulder. Prevent these possibilities by incorporating acupuncture into your wellness routine. Preventative medicine is the best medicine!