someone I've never met, you're someone whose opinions I trust.
had some overly nagging pain in my right arm for some time now.
If you say acupuncture works, jesus christmastree, I'll give it a try.
one of a select few people on the internet that I can trust
to sell me down the river.
for everything you do.
I hope your luck is as good as mine.
I injured my left rotator cuff a few years ago, and it hurt like
hell. I didn’t think it was ever going to get better.
And where was I going to find an acupuncturist in east Tennessee?
I found one (she went to the same acupuncture
school in San Diego as a friend of mine) in Rogersrville, TN. And
finally I got relief! We have also used a veterinarian
who does acupuncture on our Corgi, Sophie. She has low back
problems and it has helped her tremendously.
I first saw acupuncture work on an old
horse when I was in San Diego, it was amazing. Animals don’t have
pre-existing notion that something will or will not work. So when
it works, it works. It convinced me. It may not work
for everything, but it sure can’t hurt to try it. And it is a
hell of a lot better than surgery or some other conventional
treatment that usually just makes you worse. I will do it again
if I ever have to.
Glad you’re feeling better Bart.
Marsha in TN
Up here in the liberal elitist Northeast, we know about acupuncture,
and it is generally accepted. The main reason it
hasn't been accepted in the past is because there was, for a long time,
in this country a culture of doctors being deified.
Since doctors weren't the ones doing this, they felt threatened by it
and didn't tell people it can work.
From a biology/science standpoint, my understanding is that it works
because sticking a needle in your earlobe happens
to stimulate a portion of your brain that also feels pain in your arm,
for example. That stimulation is enough to make
your brain "forget" the other pain for a while, and that releases
tension in the area (pain causes you to automatically
tense up the muscles in that area). That relief can often be enough to
promote healing in the area that hurt, since your
body is remarkably good at repairing itself, if your brain will only
let it. All that mumbo jumbo about energy lines and
stuff is just that. Also, he couldn't fix your finger in one go for two
reasons: 1) everyone's brain is mapped a little
differently, so they sometimes have to experiment a little to find the
right spot to stick the needle(s) and 2) as I said,
that relief from pain is *often* enough to promote healing, but not
One major downside to this type of treatment is that you are *only*
really treating the pain symptom, not the
underlying cause. That's why your finger still "feels like it's
broken", even though the pain is mostly gone.
The underlying injury hasn't really healed, but the body's message of
pain has been removed. I would recommend
finding a good physical therapist, if you haven't already, and see if
an exercise/stretching program can help you out.
It might seem silly for a finger, but they can work minor miracles,
too, just on a longer time-scale and with more
effort from you. Typically, though, this effort translates to reducing
pain by fixing the underlying problem rather
than just removing the pain.
Eric from Boston
Years ago I was getting a tooth fixed when I got a sudden
stabbing pain in my hand.
My dentist said that made sense, since they put needles in your hand
when seeing an acupuncture dentist.
First off, yeah, this is powerful stuff. I’m a total needle
junkie. I love acupuncture. My most recent foray
into the zone of yin-yang preventative/curative intrusive surgery was
for a horrifically aching left shoulder pain
that arrived a day or so after my head bounced off the toilet rim one
morning last February. How and/or why
that happened is another story, but despite the two very tender bruised
bumps on my forehead, the more
immediate major problem was that the area of my left shoulder blade,
both under the blade, on top of and
surrounding it on up into the back of my neck, basically all that
section was punishing and persistently agonizing.
There are quite a few Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) clinics in my
neighborhood, but it took a few days
to find the right one for my needs. Over the last three decades
in Taiwan, I have learned what ot look for.
Initially I had gone to a “tuī-ná” (推拿) guy around the corner
from my abode. That turned out to be a mistake.
Tui-na is a form of joint manipulation combined with deep tissue
massage. This fellow was aggressively vigorous
in attacking the problem, but it felt more like he was crushing my
lungs and cracking my ribs than relieving the
actual problem. But he was certainly sincere in a gruff kind of
way. After the 20-minute session, I thanked him
for the attention, paid my money and left.
Next I went to an actual TCM clinic that provided herb therapy,
needles, moxa, tui-na, the works. After my
diagnostic chat with one of the doctors, another person who I at first
had thought was one of the receptionists,
had me sit in a chair and stuck a few needles in the top of my
shoulder. After what seemed not quite enough
time under the needles, she took that out and had me go into the tui-na
area to be worked on by large, brutish-looking
gentleman with a friendly smile. After just a few seconds on this
guy’s table, I could tell I was being worked on by
a true tui-na master. Firm and precise massage manipulation, none
of that grab-and-twist-randomly crap.
It was pure heaven. Unfortunately, this fellow also did not
target the problem area strategically enough.
It was more of an all-purpose achy shoulder rubdown, but masterfully
acquitted for sure. And I was very
unsatisfied with the acupuncture treatment, feeling it was more show
than function. A couple of days later,
shoulder still not cooperating with my efforts at wish-fulfillment, and
insomnia from the pain taking its toll as well,
I went to another TCM clinic, this one conveniently even closer to my
This doctor took my blood pressure first, found it rather alarmingly
high, and recommended I also go visit a
Western-style allopathic medicine hospital doctor person, which I later
did, and a good thing too, but that also
is another story. Anyway, we began a series of acupuncture
sessions, each running about an hour, with me
lying on my right side and with about forty or so needles in my back
and neck, left shoulder, arm, hand and leg,
and with an infra-red heat lamp glowing on my achy shoulder area.
Three or four visits a week for about four weeks,
a brief talk with the acupuncturist each time, and then about 40
minutes of acupuncture work each visit, and the
shoulder pain was gone. It turns out actually to be a C1-C6
vertebrae problem, which is basically the end of the
other two stories, I guess.
Despite your never previously having known too much about acupuncture,
it is not magic. Well, okay, I think it
IS magic, but it is not really magic, if that makes any sense. It
is the result of thousands of years of continuous
practice and observation and the recording and study of such.
That sounds kind of like science to me.
And science is pretty much magic to me.
Sometimes there can be bleeding from the needles, but as far as I know
only hygienic disposable acupuncture
needless are employed nowadays, each needle coming in its own piece of
plastic. Sometimes the needles hurt
going in or being twisted. To my mind, there are two kinds of
pain caused by the needles themselves. One is a
kind of brief, hot, scratching, cut-like ouchiness, which makes sense
since there is somebody sticking a sharp and
pointy piece of metal into your skin. The other “pain” is
expressed by the Chinese term “dé qì” (得氣), or “snag the
vital energy”, or maybe “grab the essence”, or perhaps “catch the air”,
but basically “get the Chi (氣)”. This is when
the tip of the needle comes into contact with an acupuncture point
within the body that is all fucked up with a yin-yang
imbalance. The pain itself of 得氣 is like the ache of a pulled
muscle, but not as prolonged. I kind of like the feeling
When you have those 得氣 moments, this is a sign that the acupuncture is
doing its job. More often than not, however,
there is no pain whatsoever upon needle penetration. At least,
that has been my experience.
It is definitely not a magic pill scenario, and the serious patient of
acupuncture does not expect results after only one visit.
I spent almost a month of several visits a week before my shoulder
problem was not bothering me anymore. The problem
is still there, but it doesn’t hurt anymore. It would behoove me to
continue with the sessions for a much longer period of time,
and then perhaps the actual problem would be gone for good, which may
now come back to haunt me with pain given the
right (actually, the wrong) circumstances, like banging my head on
ceramic again, not something I really make a habit of if it
can be avoided. But I am a busy guy. Or a lazy guy.
Or lazy when I’m not busy. Anyway, in that light, repeated
I would suggest that you go back to that acupuncturist you visited for
an occasional treatment every once in a while to keep
the difficulty at bay. Yeah, acupuncture totally rules.
Subject: Yes, me, too
A year and a half ago I inexplicably lost hearing in my left ear,
Labyrinthitis, I figured, caused by a virus.
I had dizzyness, tinnitus, and no hearing. I saw a doctor and had a MRI
to rule out anything bad, but he said,
essentially, "Hey, it happens". So rather than wait around for my
hearing to return I decided to see an accupuncturist.
Who knows, if it was the accupuncture, but my (partial) hearing
returned over a year of treatments.
When I missed a week the dizzyness returned until the next visit.
He used about 10 needles every time, I especially liked the one in the
forehead that caused a wonderful relaxed state.
I really enjoyed my visits which included lying in a darkened room with
soft music and feeling very relaxed for about
50 minutes ( I would have laid there all day!)
Western attitudes doubt the effectiveness because the results are often
subtle and take many treatments, but,
as the practitioner told me, they are treating the cause of the
dis-ease, not just the symptom.
So who knows? I do know that often you are on your own when you have an
When traditional medicine is not helping I say try anything. It sure
Acupucture seems a pretty mainstream approach now, and for good reason.
Good luck with your stuff, Bart man!
Rick from Fullerton
I once was sent to a therapist for
This gal used acupuncture as an adjunct for her treatment.
Well, I went in one day with my nose running so badly that I told her
get the tissues before I drowned us both. She handed me th
tissues and started to work.
By the time she got the needles placed, my nose quit running. My
reaction: "Maybe this shit does work."
Another time, I became impatient with a student, and you know the
teacher pose. But, I could not
get my left hand onto my hip. (I was told I had rotator cuff
damage.) I had been writing on the
chalkboard left-handed and a little behind me so that I could watch the
first and second graders
while I wrote. It took a little while, but an acupuncturist and
the exercises suggested by a
chiropractor got me back to the point where I could actually hook a bra
behind my back again.
I didn't have as good a result overcoming a long term cough, although I
would get temporary improvement.
I seemed quite healthy otherwise, but the cough was both wracking and
embarrassing. Turned out I had a
noncontagious mycobacterium related to TB, one with which I couldn't
infect you but which had a similar
effect on lungs. I did eighteen months of big-time TB
antibiotics. The doctors were amazed with my tolerance,
my continued appearance of good health, no weight loss or side
effects. Acupuncture and nutrition get the credit for that.
One of the clients I visit with in the waiting room said she had an
allergic reaction to antibiotics.
They caused some liver problems that would ordinarily be treated
with--you guessed it--antibiotics.
She was sent home to die. She absolutely credits the
acupuncturist with having saved her life.
Well, it does better for some things than others. Pain is
something for which it usually works extremely well.
I've used acupuncture for part of my health care for years, and it is
totally not covered by my insurance.
It's my first choice for treatment.
Congratulations on your good fortune in finding this treatment,
being open to trying it, and wanting to share your experience.
One day, about twenty years ago, the left side of my face started
losing feeling and muscle control.
I thought I was having a mild stroke so I rushed to my Doctor.
The diagnoses was “Bell’s Palsy”.
The doctor prescribed steroids and that
seemed to help except I began to have intense pain on the
left side of my face. Went back to the Doctor and he sent
me home with more steroids and pain meds.
Most of the feeling and muscle control (but not all) came back in a few
weeks. Then about a month later
it started again with the same symptoms. Back to the Doc
for more steroids and pain meds.
Bart…..after two years of pain and only
being able to smile on the right side of my face, I had
I went for a second opinion. Same diagnoses with more
steroids and more pain meds.
I had to do something so I disobeyed my scientific and logical mind and
went to a local acupuncturist.
After the first treatment, I felt great. After about three
months, I finished the treatments and twenty
years later, not a single reoccurrence of “Bell’s Palsy”. I
have never returned to acupuncture and I still
can’t figure out how needles can stop pain and loss of facial muscle
control but I’m glad it worked for me.
Thanks for sharing your story Bart and
I hope the acupuncture keeps working for you.
I've had some experience with acupuncture, and with similar amazing
success. Once I had a huge welt
on the back of my left hand for months- the result of having
accidentally slammed it against a door frame.
The tendon was swollen out like a grape. It wasn't that painful after
the first few days, but it would not
go away and I thought maybe it might be there forever. Went to an
acupuncturist, who put one needle in
each side of my forearm up by the elbow and it was an instant miracle.
I could feel all the tension and pain
in the tendon immediately shoot out the tips of my fingers and that was
it. The next day the swelling and
pain was completely gone.
I also have had a lot of back pain over the years, and used to go to an
acupuncturist/chiropractor in Japan
who would first do Shiatsu massage to relax the muscles, then do the
needles, and then do the chiropractic
alignment at the end when all the muscles and tension were gone.
I think for strutural ailments like arthritis, tendonitis, joint pain
or swelling, etc acupuncture really is magic.
I've also heard that it really is just as great for lots of other
things including even quitting smoking.
Congrats on your discovery!
Subject: Acupuncture and stuff
Years ago I had a problem that my Chiropractor could not fix.
Despite your experience with a chiro,
mine is excellent and uses kinesiology, which is based on the same
meridians (lines of energy transport) that acupuncturists use. He
performs his 'miracles' by tapping or pressing
on a certain point. The difference is profound and mystifying enough to
draw a smile every time I see it work.
He will have me hold out my arm (for
instance) and press down on it while I resist. If my resistance is week
(he can easily push my arm down) he will tap a spot on my heel or
elbow, then have me hold out my arm again.
He can no longer push my arm down. There are different tests for
different meridians, and different acupressure
points to activate, depending on where the imbalance is.
Acupuncturists do something similar,
except with needles. They pinpoint the activation point and apply
the needles there, or at various other. I saw an acupuncturists to get
a handle on a mystery abdominal pain.
She was anglo, and was actually someone I had met in the past before
she trained to become a practitioner.
I think I went through a dozen or so sessions; it was 20 years ago so
it's a little foggy in my mind.
Most of the needles I never felt; the
exceptions were the web between fingers/toes. Those were painful.
The problem resolved, although I can't recall if the sessions cured me
or just time. I made dietary adjustments
at the same time so who knows?
It's good to be open/receptive to these
alternative treatments. Doctors usually only want to treat, not cure.
Still see the same chiro when needed; over 30 years and I trust him
Wishing you continued success,
Hi Bart! Three years ago I had a massive stroke which destroyed
three large sections of my brain
(I have the MRI images to prove it;) The doctors were useless so
my hubby called our dear friend
who is a top-notch acupuncturist. She immediately started working
on me and within a couple months,
I was very close to normal again (still am).
My neurologist could not believe it
when I walked through the door for the follow-up exam.
I don't even want to think about what
would have happened if I hadn't started acupuncture treatment right
I'm sorry that you had to live with that pain - if I had known, I
surely would have sent you to an acupuncturist!
Jo-Ann from Minnesota
my family had race horses for many years and the trainers swore by
acupuncture for the horses.
It relieved their pain, drug free (many medications are severely
restricted for race horses as the effects
can influence race results and the bettors don’t necessarily know which
horses are drugged).
I have a really bad back from an ancient car accident (1964!), I went
thru several orthopedic surgeons
before my neighbor told me about his Chiropractor. Coming from a
medical family, I always equated
Chiropractors with witch doctors. One day I was in horrible pain
but there must have been an orthopedic
golf tournament that day because no ortho’s (real doctors) were
available. I made an appointment with
the witch doctor (chiropractor) who, after 60 days of treatment, fixed
my back pain.
That was 15 years ago and, although I
have minor pains every now and then, the debilitating pains are gone
That Chiropractor retired about 10 years ago and all of the
Chiropractors I’ve tried since haven’t been worth a damn.
I think you accidentally found a good acupuncturist like I found a good
I’ve found that some actually know what they are doing but most are not
worth the trouble.
BTW, MD’s (medical doctors) don’t get any training on the homeopathic
arts (acupuncture, chiropractic,
herbal, etc.). If you want a doctor that knows both medicine AND
homeopathic arts, look for a D.O.
(Doctor of Osteopathy) instead of an M.D.
Dennis in DC
e-mail to Bart
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