We had the good fortune of connecting with Eric Schmidt and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Eric, is there something you believe many others might not?
I love this question because my professional work is based on all those people who “fall through the cracks” of conventional medicine. In this context we can call Western medicine the “conventional” advice or treatment. Most of the people who show up in my office have seen lots of conventional doctors, but they have been unable to resolve their issue(s). My main specialty is called “Dry Needling”, which is a muscle-based approach to acupuncture. Based on my experience, I would say that conventional medical treatment for muscle pain is pretty limited. The basic Western approach for physical pain is to look for the structural causes. An x-ray or MRI is ordered and a physician will examine the bones and other physical structures to look for the root cause of pain. Although this approach is effective for some people, there are large numbers of people with chronic muscle pain that have no structural abnormalities. The spine and joints look perfect on the MRI but the pain is still persistent. For most of these cases the root cause is muscular pain (myalgia), which includes dysfunction of the related nerves. These types of pain can be related to trauma or overuse, where the muscle has an originally injury and was unable to reset neurologically. The result is a cycle of inflammation where the muscle and nerve are locked in a “guarding” pattern and the local muscles are not able to reset to a normal healthy state. For these conditions I use acupuncture (and Dry Needling) to reset the muscle-to-nerve connection. The results can be quite rapid when the underlying problem is that the muscle system is stuck “on” due to trauma or overuse. Of course there are other modalities that are effective for these types of muscle problems including physical therapy, massage therapy and topical treatments. Usually acupuncture treatment with a focus on local “trigger points” works the fastest, especially when the problem has been chronic for some time, but there are lots of other non-conventional options. In summary, I would encourage anyone with chronic pain to investigate non-conventional treatment methods. For some cases it is a good idea to visit a conventional doctor first, to rule out any structural problems. If nothing significant is found on x-ray or MRI, this is great news, the issue is most likely a muscle problem which is much easier to fix.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My acupuncture practice is somewhat unique in that I do a style of treatment called “dry needling”. Sorry I know, it’s not the most pleasant term… I actually joke about “rebranding” the name to something more appealing, but for now we are stuck with “dry needling”. Basically, this treatment style is a Western medicine approach to acupuncture where we directly target muscle and nerve problems. The system is based on creating a diagnosis of which muscles are dysfunctional and then directly treating those muscles with acupuncture needles. I have found that this system is more effective than traditional acupuncture for many muscle and nerve problems that occur due to injury or overuse. Dry needling is often a practice done by Physical Therapists (PTs), but in California PTs are not allowed to do dry needling so there are only a handful of us acupuncturists that perform this technique in the state. For an acupuncturist the technique was actually quite easy to learn, where the basic diagnosis and treatment is actually much simpler than traditional acupuncture. I appreciate the simplicity and I love that the treatment method is very simple and straight-forward.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live (and work) in Santa Monica so I spend a lot of my free time on the beach or hiking in Topanga. If I had a friend in town I would probably start with a walk down to the beach and then look for a good restaurant near the beach or on Main St in Santa Monica. I would also plan a morning hike (not too early) but to Topanga and show my guest some hidden trails that I’ve discovered over the years.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am eternally grateful to Dr Janet Travell (1901-1997) for her work in the field of medicine. Her work was groundbreaking and laid the foundations for modern approaches to “myofacial pain”, meaning the treatment of muscle pain. Dr Travell was an accomplished doctor and also the personal physician to President JFK.

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Image Credits
Lee Schneider, Red Cup Agency

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