LAKE PLACID - Dr. Karen Kan, a local acupuncturist and holistic physician based on Saranac Avenue has been treating patients for years with her hands.
Many people in the United States are more exposed to Western medicine and are unfamiliar with acupuncture, so Kan explained how she treats her patients.
"It's called muscle testing and it's a way of tapping into the intuitive system of the body; to ask questions of the body," Kan said. "I use the technique to ask the person's body which acupuncture points they need treated and then I place the needle in those points."
Dr. Karen Kan, above working with a patient and below with her book, “Guide to Healing Chronic Pain — A Holistic Approach.” (Photo — Matthew Turner)
Kan said muscle testing asks the body yes or no questions, based on the answer the body gives she then treats the area of the body with small needles.
"I touch the person. I make an electric connection with the person," Kan said. "And then I do all the testing on my one hand. ... If the answers yes the muscle testing will go strong and if it's no the testing goes weak.
"Usually, a normal person when you're asking questions there shoulder muscle should lock. If you said, 'My name is Matt,' and then I pushed down on your arm and tell you to resist, you should be able to hold that strongly. But if I ask you to say your name is Bob and it's not Bob, with the same amount of pressure, your arm will weaken and I'll be able to push it down."
Appointments with Kan can range in cost and time depending on the health problems of the patient.
Kan studied in medicine in Canada and later moved to Los Angeles, where she worked for UCLA. After some time there, she and her former husband moved to the Adirondacks to build a home.
One of Kan's first exposures to acupuncture was when her mother was treated fibromyalgia, a disorder that causes musculoskeletal pain throughout the body.
"I thought it was kind of neat what they did," Kan said.
Kan first started practicing acupuncture as a medical student in Canada. There she met a patient who had severe pain from migraines.
"I pulled these acupuncture needles out of my pocket and said, 'Can I try this on you?'" Kan said. "It's one point, for headache, on your hand. I said, 'If it doesn't work I'll give you the medication.'"
Kan then asked the woman about her pain, and she said it had gone away.
"I started noticing people were getting miraculous improvements," Kan said. "And I started getting really excited about it."
Kan is also author of "Guide to Healing Chronic Pain - A Holistic Approach." The book was her labor of love over a period of several years.
"There's not enough time in a patient visit to go over everything in my head, so I thought how much better it is to actually write all these things down so they can digest it slowly at their own pace," she said.
The "Guide to Healing Chronic Pain" is a general wellness book, despite the title focusing on pain. The Kindle edition of the came out last year and went to number one on Amazon shortly after. The hard copy and paper books came out in May of last year.
"Anybody should read it to be well and stay well, it's not just for pain," Kan said.
The book is available online or locally at the Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid and Moose Maple Books in Saranac Lake.