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Adventures in Acupuncture

August 3, 2016

Acupuncture is one of the more well-known alternative methods for treating various medical conditions. I had in depth exposure but no formal training during my natural medicine studies. Everybody knows this means sticking needles, but I wonder how many have really experienced acupuncture. Let’s discuss that.

I played a couple years of college football and remember coming out of that with a sore neck. Twenty years later it was very stiff and bothering me while I was in the operating room. I went to a chiropractor who started adjusting my neck. The pain improved significantly and over a period of a year I noticed my lifelong allergies went away. When I asked him about this he said that by increasing motion in the neck the lymphatic drainage improved which subsequently boosts overall immune health.

During that time I also noted after a long operating day that I may be nauseated with a touchy stomach. I would go to the chiropractor and he would pop something down around T4 or T5 and it promptly and consistently took care of the symptoms. I was in the habit of going to the chiropractor two times a week if I felt I needed to or not as part of a maintenance program because of the long hours standing the operating room. He also taught me to stand with bent knees at the OR table. Sometimes I sat if I was using magnifying glasses. I would get engrossed in what I was doing and my posture was ignored. You know how that goes.

Well, acupuncture deals most of the time with musculoskeletal pain. The basic principle focuses on energy meridians that have certain points along the body. The meridians serve as a roadmap for energy conduction. Stimulation along these meridian points cause a change in energy flow and function of nerves that go to different parts of the body. Besides pain, this can also affect digestion, breathing, heart function, anxiety, hunger, or sleep.

Altering energy flow along the meridians achieves the effect of acupuncture. Musculoskeletal pain is also treated by chiropractic using this principle of energy flow.

So back to the adventure story, I wear these little skinny reading glasses and look over the top of them a lot. Add to that my head tipped down while I work in front of the computer. My neck hurt for more than a year and was getting worse. I am somewhat embarrassed because this is otherwise known as “text neck” but I assure you it’s not from texting. Stretching and chiropractic treatment were limited in relief and I had lost motion in the neck. I have never had acupuncture but with the aggravating neck pain for over a year I decided to give it a try. This also gave me an opportunity to report back my experience from the patient’s standpoint.

Practitioners are trained and licensed. Medical doctors may take training in acupuncture. Not all practitioners are medical doctors. As in any profession, some practitioners are better than others.


The technique varies between practitioners. Fine needles are inserted along the meridian to affect the nerve by altering energy flow. Some simply place the needles, others will twirl them and that hurts a little bit. Low-dose electricity can be applied to the needles. Electrical stimulation was usually done for anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes. Following each acupuncture treatment I always had the Chinese practitioner put my head in a headlock and pop it right and left. This enabled me to regain normal motion. In the final session the needles were actually inserted into the base of my skull and electrical stimulation applied.  Total treatment time– about an hour. Cost–$75 cash. Not too bad an experience. I will tell you the headlock thing hurt, but I needed that to improve motion. I was locked up.

I do not know one particular treatment session that worked better than another. I continued stretching and, of course, I told my girlfriend that she has to give me a massage two or three times a week. My neck is definitely much better. To tell you my thoughts, I still think the thing that did me the most good was the headlock and popping my neck. I also made other lifestyle changes like adjusting my glasses for the computer and using a kneeling chair to tip my pelvis forward. There are other modalities recently introduced such as those using magnetic fields to help with pain and chronic inflammation. Low level lasers in the infrared spectrum enhance wound healing in chronic conditions such as tendinitis and is also useful for pain relief here as well.

As we discuss your medical program, please relate your own experiences with me. I have an open mind and this is how I learn to help others.

There is another injection that is very helpful in many ways and is related to acupuncture. This can be used to treat chronic migraine headaches, PTSD, and many other conditions. It is called the sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) block. Stay tuned and discussion of that is coming.





Posted in Blog by jbosiljevac

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