When West Meets East: A Nurse Gets Acupuncture

If you’re a frequent reader of this blog then you know I’m a western medicine girl. I’ve worked in nursing for over twenty years. I believe in vaccinations and almost all things that our medical care has to offer.

About six months ago, I suffered an upper back injury. I, of course, was a bad patient and continued to work-out even though I had significant pain. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I went to my PCP for a script for physical therapy and headed back to the therapist who rehabbed my shoulder when I dislocated it two years ago.

I’m a big believer in physical therapy. One of the things I’m not so keen on is surgery and so I’ll do just about everything prior to going under the scalpel. Physical therapy has healed both my knees, both my shoulders and a hip injury. I had high hopes it would do the same for my back.

After a couple of months in rehab, I’d only made moderate progress and was still having limited range of motion and pain. The physical therapist, who I do respect a lot because he’s a medical nerd like me, suggested I go for acupuncture.

Full. Stop.

I mean, just because I am a nurse doesn’t mean I like needles. I’ve not been a big believer in eastern medicine but since my insurance covered it and my medical nerd friend who I trusted thought it might work I decided it was worth a try. Even though I didn’t find out until AFTER that he’d never done it himself.

So– off I go. The doctor I met with had been trained in China. She said they use acupuncture for “95% of what ails you”. I don’t know if this is actually true– just her statement.

From what I gathered– chi (good blood and lymph flow) keeps you healthy. Bad chi gives you “broken branches and bad leaves”.

What was the treatment? Hickies to my back– or cupping– where small glass suction cups that are shaped like fish bowls are applied to the skin. Sometimes they put needles inside the suction cups. It does cause bruising. I’ve also had electricity applied to the needles as well.

I was skeptical but I have to say I did have less muscle soreness and improved range of motion to my neck after one treatment. Even my physical therapist measured improved range of motion and felt like my muscles were less tight.

What I’ve gathered is that these treatments do improve blood flow by causing trauma. We know that whenever something is injured– blood flow increases to the area. This is why your sprained ankle swells like a balloon. So, I think this minor tissue trauma does improve blood flow and good blood flow does provide healing.

I don’t think acupuncture will cure appendicitis but I do think it has value for some conditions/scenarios.

I survived and something that has been around so long seems to be helping a lot of people.

I may be a convert of its use in some limited medical situations.

What about you– have you ever tried acupuncture? Did it work? Would you ever use it in a novel?

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