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Accurate Puncture

30 May 2009

I’ve used chiropractic for many years — I don’t believe it will solve every problem, but if I have muscle pain (mostly in my lower back or shoulder), then I know that getting a few adjustments over the span of a couple of weeks will resolve the issue more thoroughly than just taking prescription anti-inflammatory pills just to hide the pain (as has happened when I went to an MD with elbow pain).

So after I had been dealing with strong neck pain for 3 weeks with no amelioration (because sometimes these pains go away on their own), I made an appointment with a chiropractor. She cracked me and massaged me, but unlike previous times, the pain wasn’t getting better (it wasn’t getting worse, but by this point I had been feeling pain and tightness for 5 weeks). She suggested that perhaps, since the pain was so high up on the neck (it was the base of the skull, really), chiropractic wasn’t the best treatment, but acupuncture would be. (Did you know that headaches or muscle aches on the back of the skull is a sign of liver imbalance? Now you and I do.)

I’ve got friends — real world and online — who swear by acupuncture, and the results they described seemed just shy of miraculous: back pain so bad they could barely walk, gone; cigarette addiction, gone; excess weight gain, gone. But the whole needle thing … that needle thing. (Oh, and the little detail that acupuncture is not covered by my insurance; but after 5 weeks of pain, that little detail doesn’t seem as important anymore — would you prefer less money in your pocket or short-temperedness in your spouse/mother? I thought so.)

On Friday, with a deadline looming at 2:30 pm (it could have been 5 pm but the last soccer game of the high school season [did I mention on here that Impera was on the soccer team, or was that just over on my photo diary?] started at 3, and I didn’t want to miss it), I received a call that the acupuncturist I would be seeing next Wednesday (which would have brought me to my 6th week of pain) had a last-minute cancellation — did I want to take it? Yes? OK, get here in the next 15 minutes.

After consulting with me, and sharing some URLs I might find useful, the doctor (do you call them that?) had me lay face-down down on a table and started poking me. Literally, unlike what usually happens at an MD’s office. I got punctured in my ear lobes, the sides of my ears, my wrists, my ankles, and the back of my skull. He placed a wireless doorbell in my hand, and told me to buzz him if I needed him before the 30 minutes of treatment were over. Then he left me to a nice warm room, suffused with Asian New Age music. I felt some of the needles going in — acupuncture is not a pain-free treatment. And interestingly, at different points in the 30 minutes, I felt each of the needles on my right side throb for a little while. Never more than one location at a time, thank goodness, and nothing that a little meditative outward focus couldn’t take care of, but since my right side is my weak side (that’s the plantar fasciitis foot, so it’s the side where I’ll first feel back pain or shoulder pain), I wonder if my misalignment of Qi (ooh, listen to the poseur use the lingo!) is worse on that side?

I didn’t need to use the ringer (I’m not a wuss, I can handle 30 minutes, even of throbbing needles!), and the 30 minutes didn’t feel interminable. So, that’s good, right? But here we are 24 hours later, and my pain hasn’t miraculously dissolved (I didn’t really expect that to happen, although my heart of hearts hoped for it). I’ll be going in for a second visit this week, and I just hope this pain will be gone by June 15. Because that’s when we’re leaving for our 3-week Southwestern US adventure. Which will include lots of hiking, and camping. Two activities that do not mix well with neck pain.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. KathyR permalink
    30 May 2009 2:48 pm

    I don’t have any particularly pressing need, but I’ve considered how western medicine completely and utterly failed at even discovering the cause of my mystery malady in the fall of ’07 (which malady still occasionally bothers me) and wondered if I might get some help from alternative medicine. So I’m interested in your experience. Thanks for posting this.

    Throbbing? Like ouchy throbbing or ??

    I know. I’m such a baby.

  2. Peaceable Imperatrix permalink*
    30 May 2009 3:34 pm

    Kathy, I think you should definitely check out acu. Like most alternative medicine, it will take a while to fix the problem (despite friends with miracle stories), and you need to maintain regular visits for long-term care. One problem I have with stuff like this is that a visit to my MD is $15 (co-pay). A visit to the acupuncturist? $58 a pop.

    I agree that conventional medicine is sloppy. It misses a lot, and it creates more problems than you started with. Case in point: I have heavy flow, they put me on birth control pills. This gives me high blood sugar levels AND high blood pressure (neither of which I had before). The doc’s first thought: we can give you a pill to get rid of the problems. No! I’ll just get off the BCP instead. Sheesh.

    Throbbing, like “burning, there’s a needle in my wrist!” kinda throbbing. And there was a bit of worry b/c I thought that if I shifted my wrist a bit, I might alleviate the throb, BUT, what if that makes the needle angle worse, and I can’t stand the pain at all then? But I was worried over nothing. (Plus, I did have the buzzer in my hand…) Also, when you get recommendations, you should ask your friends if the person is heavy-handed with the needles or not. I was told this guy was a bit rougher than his wife, but he had an opening, she did not, and I wanted to start working on the pain. I figured I had to deal with it.

  3. 30 May 2009 4:40 pm

    Sorry to hear you’re still in pain. I’ve been to several acupuncturists over the years. Some are definitely better than others. I’d recommend anyone looking for acupuncture treatment use a DOM (Doctor of Oriental Medicine), and if you’re lucky enough to have multiple DOMs in your area, try different ones until you find a really good one.

    Your blog is looking quite nice, BTW.

  4. Peaceable Imperatrix permalink*
    31 May 2009 7:51 am

    So, Wil, one really is supposed to feel 100% better after one visit? Gee! These two are MSOM, which I imagine is one step down from DOM. But I was given another recommendation, and I will check that other group out for their training history. And thanks! I’m hoping that changing the header on a regular basis will keep me blogging more often. 🙂

  5. 31 May 2009 8:43 am

    P.I., I’d recommend anyone interested see a practitioner with a solid background in oriental medicine. I’m sure there are good MSOMs (I don’t know what the difference is between MSOM and DOM). And I didn’t mean to imply you’d feel 100% better after one visit…just that some acupuncturists are better than others (as with MDs).

  6. 2 June 2009 1:00 pm

    My (albeit non-expert) understanding of acupuncture is that a course of several treatments is required to achieve results. I think it’s highly unlikely that you’d be feeling 100% (or even a lot) better after just one visit, no matter how skilled the acupuncturist is.

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