A couple of years ago I began experiencing pain in my right jaw and cheek. While it was still mild, I made a dental appointment, thinking I must have an issue with a tooth. Wrong. My dentist assured me that all was well, and sent me on my way. The pain, however, did not get the memo. I went to my internist.
He, of course, found nothing to concern him, and suggested I see an ear, nose and throat specialist. After waiting several weeks for an appointment, by which time my pain was considerably more severe, the exam went smoothly, and the doctor could find no problem. His solution was to prescribe Vioxx, a pain medication that was subsequently taken off the market because of its propensity to cause heart attacks and strokes. Good thing I declined to take it. I really wanted to know why my face hurt so much, not just to have an Rx to mask the pain.
At about that time a friend of mine told me about getting complete relief from her debilitating migraines with acupuncture. Her story of so many doctors failing to help her sounded so much like mine that I decided to give it a try.
I visited her acupuncturist, thinking I was going in for a consult. In no time at all, I was lying on a table with numerous fine needles in my face, a couple in one ankle, and one in the top of my head. Pain gone. Just like that– I couldn’t believe it. I lay there for about a half hour, during which he came back into the room and checked on me once, turning the needles gently. When I was done, he told me to come back in 3-4 days, and twice the following week. At the end of that time, I was completely pain-free. I felt like I had a new lease on life.
I asked the practitioner about the pain, and he described it as an inflammation of a facial nerve. He asked me if it was more severe if I felt a cool breeze on my face. I assured him that it did. Problem solved, and without drugs!
Now, with this in mind, you might ask yourself why, when I developed crippling hip pain (later diagnosed as bursitis) last year, I did not think of going to an acupuncturist. Trust me, I ask myself that all the time. Still, since I didn’t know what was wrong, I started out with an orthopedic surgeon. Upon diagnosis, they sent me for physical therapy, which I went to faithfully for six weeks, including ultrasound treatments. When I was still not better, and the pain was waking me up every single night, I returned to the orthopod for a cortisone injection. That, I was told, was the silver bullet that would make all the pain go away. Nope. Nada.
Suddenly I had a vision of the acupuncturist, and the pain relief I had experienced in the past. After my first appointment, I slept pain-free all night for nine nights. Two days later I returned for another treatment, and again had tremendous relief. My journey with bursitis is not over, but I must say that in these two cases, conventional medicine had their chances (multiple times) to heal me, and failed. I always get relief from acupuncture, even if I am not completely cured. I am a believer in integrating alternative and Chinese medicine in our arsenal of care.
My husband was the ultimate skeptic about acupuncture. His primary complaint is that he doesn’t understand how it works. Well, I don’t understand to this day how we get TV or sound recordings, but I acknowledge that they exist. The hub has seen my results, and I recently overheard him recommend it to a friend for relief of chronic pain. Maybe 5000 years of Chinese medicine knows something we don’t know. I’m okay with that. And I have a whole new respect for a well-placed needle.