“The funniest one I always get is, ‘Are you sure you’re not Chinese?’” Dr. Kara Gray Breeze recalled while giving a presentation on chiropractic and acupuncture at the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library on Thursday evening.
“Everybody expects because it’s Chinese medicine … that I couldn’t possibly know anything about it.”
In fact, Gray Breeze -- who studied acupuncture while in chiropractic college at McMaster University -- has fully incorporated acupuncture into her practice at Broker’s Active Care Klinic. Together, the two disciplines offer methods of treatment significant for being both drug-free and surgery-free.
Although acupuncture has been used as a form of traditional Chinese medicine for 2,500 years, Gray Breeze’s approach to the treatment is unmistakably modern.
“I’m a chiropractor. I’m medically trained, so I use acupuncture with my knowledge,” she said. “I’m not a Chinese practitioner and I don’t claim to be. I don’t understand a lot of the Chinese medicine aspect of it because I do things my own way.
“It doesn’t mean that one way is better than the other, and I definitely integrate some of it into my practice. But my belief is, if I can’t explain to you scientifically why something’s going to work, I’m not really comfortable doing it.”
The perceived medical value of acupuncture has been growing in recent years, as mounting research indicates that the practice can have a beneficial effect on many conditions. Gray Breeze listed lower back pain, nausea, headaches, nerve pain, shingles, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, digestive disorders and multiple sclerosis as being among the ailments that may be eased via acupuncture.
Halfway through the session, she showed her audience one of the disposable, stainless steel needles that are inserted into the skin during acupuncture.
Unlike hypodermic needles that actually cut the skin, acupuncture needles pass through it without causing an injury.
“Some people say that acupuncture’s painful,” Gray Breeze said. “I hate to say it, but it’s generally the men …
“They really don’t hurt. What I describe it as is a mosquito bite that goes away. It’s usually a bit of a pinch. You might have kind of a burning sensation, but it’s not too uncomfortable. I’ve had very few people who couldn’t handle the treatment.”
Despite her acupuncture experience, Gray Breeze remains first and foremost a chiropractor. As she explained in her presentation, the word “chiropractic” comes from the Greek words chiro (hand) and praktikos (practice) and translates as “done by hand,” emphasizing its status as an alternative to drugs and surgery.
I’m a chiropractor. I’m medically trained, so I use acupuncture with my knowledge. - Dr. Kara Gray Breeze
Gray Breeze identified an additional element of chiropractic as focusing on the source of a problem rather than merely the symptoms. Her philosophy of medicine emphasizes the autonomy of the patient as an active participant in creating a healthy lifestyle, being fully informed and asking their physician questions about treatment and side effects.
“If we have someone that comes in with lower back problem, which is a really common complaint, I don’t want to just make the pain go away,” Gray Breeze said. “Of course you want to feel better -- that’s kind of the goal of the treatment. But we also want to figure out what caused it, why did this happen, and what can we do to prevent it from happening again, which brings in the active care part of it.
“As a patient coming in, you’re expected to participate in your own health. You can’t walk in and just expect somebody to do something for you and fix your problem and it’s done with. You have to take control of your own health care and I’m a big supporter of that.
“I will, if somebody comes in and that’s all they want is a quick fix, sure. But I would rather make the lifestyle changes and help you do that to continue on that way.”