Apr 8, 2018

Acupuncture--It Isn't For The Faint Of Heart, aka Needles In My Body? You've Got To Be Kidding!

I have, at times, a painful lower back and, since we're enumerating, a restless leg and arthritis in the hip, as a result of the stroke, the latter from bad posture I constantly (except when I'm not) try to correct. I tried everything around the house--heat packs, cold packs--and wasted a lot of money on Lidocaine-based, over-the-counter products from the pharmacy. But three weeks ago, I had an epiphany, truth be told, from desperation. Acupuncture! There are many places in Portland that offer it. But first, a little background.

Acupuncture, in a broad context, is a process in which skilled practitioners insert fine, thin needles through the skin in an effort to eliminate or lessen pain in the lower back, neck, and osteoarthritic knee, headache, migraine, dental pain, and nausea, for example.  The downside is substantial if a practitioner uses non-sterile needles which can cause infections, punctured and collapsed organs, and injury to the central nervous system, but in the hands of an experienced practitioner, (and if you're desperate enough), in my opinion, it's worth a try.

With the help of herbs, diet, and massage, acupuncture flourished in China and slowly spread around the world but was disdained by Western medicine. Yet today, even in China, there is confusion and mystery over just how acupuncture works.

From the NIH (National Institutes of Health), comes the bottom line: "Results from a number of studies suggest that acupuncture may help ease types of pain that are often chronic such as low-back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis/knee pain. It also may help reduce the frequency of tension headaches and prevent migraine headaches. Therefore, acupuncture appears to be a reasonable option for people with chronic pain to consider. However, clinical practice guidelines are inconsistent in recommendations about acupuncture.

"The effects of acupuncture on the brain and body and how best to measure them are only beginning to be understood. Current evidence suggests that many factors—like expectation and belief—that are unrelated to acupuncture needling may play important roles in the beneficial effects of acupuncture on pain."
This from one site: Check acupuncturist's credentials. Most states require a license, certification, or registration to practice acupuncture; however, education and training standards and requirements for obtaining these vary from state to state. 

 I did and found this:

Although a license does not guarantee quality of care, it does indicate, Dr. Lu in my case, that the clinician is up to standard in the use of acupuncture. Some conventional medical practitioners—including physicians and dentists—practice acupuncture. But I couldn't find one. Ergo, Mercy and Wisdom Clinic. 

Mercy and Wisdom is weird both in the waiting room and the acupuncture rooms, the former having very low seats that I struggled to get out of and the latter, simply put, old fashioned with its high examining bed and it archaic case for supplies. But other than that, Dr. Lu knows her stuff. 

When I first met her, she explained how Chinese medicine was different than the Western kind, in engaging detail. It was all about having blockage where you shouldn't. And then the needles came out. It hurt at first, but Dr. Lu reassured me that the needles were placed where they were needed because if they went in to easily, that means they weren't addressing the blockage. The hurt went away in less than 5 minutes.

The needles, and 20 more, stayed in for an hour, and they were placed in something she called channels. She said my arm which has been dead for nine years could move, too. Dr. Lu suggested I'd walk for exercise. So I did, up and down the hall. My assistant, Joyce (I call her Joyce 2), came with me each time, and she was a key factor in my relaxation. Dr. Lu said I have to go a month to notice results with my sore lower back, my restless foot, and arthritis in the hip. She told me to avoid the night shade vegetables and fruits for arthritis: eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes.

I stopped taking the Oxycodone after the 2nd visit. Maybe there is something about pain and acupuncture after all. I'll write and let you know when I take a significant step.