Friday, 28 January 2011

Acupuncture - effective?

I’ve had a nagging pain in my left knee and hip for some time now – about 12 months actually.  Sometimes it’s better, sometimes worse, but last week-end, I felt I would need a crutch after a 10-minute slow circuit of our local shopping centre.  Enough is enough.  I now keep finding excuses not to look after my grandchildren as I can’t run after them and I suspect my family are beginning to think I am just lazy! So I tackled the problem on several fronts. Having tried anti-inflammatories several times, which help briefly, I decided to try my luck with acupuncture.  I found one ‘on the street where I live’ and went in.  A delightful and immaculately dressed old Chinese gentleman greeted me, and I noticed immediately that he had the requisite certificates on his wall which would mean I could claim from my Medical Aid.  He seemed to have no secretary and no phone; in fact he is semi-retired, only works three days a week and does his own Admin, bi-lingually in beautiful Chinese script with the English translation underneath.  I immediately like him and was impressed when he took my pulse on both arms and told me I also had a ‘stomach disturbance’ of some kind.  He was spot on – my digestive system had been reacting over-enthusiastically of late to large handfuls of home-grown cherry tomatoes. But I digress. The treatment for my original complaint consisted of some chiropractic manipulation of my hip and pressure onto certain nerves (which was painful but better afterwards) and then a marvellous half an hour of lying still with aromatic herbs massaged into my lower back and an assortment of needles inserted at strategic points. 
I did feel much better for about three days. Then the pain was back. I think the needles have a temporary analgesic affect, but my lower back was very tender for a week.  Eventually, I noticed a yellow bruise on one side where the needles had been.  On my second visit, more manipulation but no needles. Dr was very apologetic about my bruising. To hedge my bets – I went in that week to my GP and had X-rays. He sent me to a sports science speciailst as the X-rays revealed nothing wrong.  This young man diagnosed bursitis in my knee and hip and recommended lots of physiotherapy.  He told me that if he could have such perfect bones at age 60, he would be absolutely delighted. Relief. What to do about my next acupuncture appointment? I really do like the old man.  The young doc said it would do no harm.  So I am going to my third appointment.  And I’ve booked sessions with the physio. I should say that at my second acupuncture appointment I was going to cancel any further ones but I chickened out – because there was a man in the ‘waiting room’  (actually, adjacent to the desk where doctor talks to his patients)  - who was crippled with arthritis. Acupuncture might be his only chance of relief.  ‘Yes,’ I lied, ‘the treatment is really helping a lot’.  I just hope that I get a chance to talk to the nice Chinese doctor in private at my third appointment. I should have that the story of my life is that I am always trying to please people.


  1. My aunt used to get Acupuncture quite often and said it was wonderful! I always wondered what it was like but have been skeptical that it is really all that helpful. I've wondered if it is more of a psychological effect than a real improvement.

    I guess I always figured that if God had wanted me to have needles sticking out of me all over He would have made me a porcupine! :)

  2. I have had acupuncture since the late 1980s for chronic pain and to keep me 'cobbled together' as I have cancer. Acu has an accumulative effect - it won't really work in 2 or 3 treatments - and it balances your chi - your universal life force energy. I take my allopathic drugs from a regular doctor when necessary, but frequently find the homeopathic drugs and acu my dr of oriental medicine gives me are as or are more effective, and they don't cancel each other out and are safe to use together, so give it a chance...and book nut? The needles are the size of a strand of human hair - people get freaked by the word 'needle' -- they feel awww...when they hit the spot...

  3. The needles were no problem for me, except that one created a bruise on my lower back. The treatment definitely helped for a few days and I enjoyed it (Chinese herbs, manipulation & relaxing under a warm pad). However, I have opted for now to go back to my physio as this has been diagnosed by both her and a specialist and they provide me with more technical explanation of the condition that does the Chinese doctor. He just wants me to trust hjim to fix it. I may go back to him later anyway, as he is such a sweet old man, very experienced, and I have no problem in believeing that he has helped many people with their problems.