2nd Shot at Acupuncture

This morning I drove half an hour to try Acupuncture again.  I had tried it once before for $50 at a Korean venue located near Hollywood, California.  That experience had been very relaxing.  The needles for the most part, didn’t hurt and I was hopeful that this could reduce inflammation in my Rheumatoid Arthritis.  At the time, I was taking Methotrexate and Prednisone.  Soon after my appointment, I started to flare up.  At that time, I knew nothing about how alternative medications can and often cause an exacerbation of symptoms.  My flare lasted three weeks and I did not go back.

In hind-sight I realize that my flare was just the healing process when using natural therapies.  It was just an average day and I felt like looking into acupuncture again because it’s something I wanted to try once more in the future.   Before I got to far into my research, I came across an acupuncturist who was offering services “at an affordable sliding scale”.  For me, I hadn’t even considered going back anytime soon.  My full time job has gone down to part time and I’m currently looking for more work.  But with services being offered for as low as $25, I took it as a sign that maybe I should go in for treatment.  After all, I don’t HAVE to have conditioner for my hair for a couple of weeks.  I could just survive on saved bottles from old visits to hotel rooms of both shampoo and conditioner.  I could cut back on spending for groceries, etc.  Reducing inflammation in my hands is top priority for me, so why wouldn’t I figure out what I could do to make it happen?  I decided it was worth the tighter squeeze in my budget to give acupuncture another shot.

I told Michael, the acupuncturist, about my previous experience.  He decided we should take it slow.  For this trip, he inserted needles only in my hands and feet.  He said that acupuncture is sort of like, “stirring up the mud in the water” and it gave me a clear vision of a shallow muddy pool being stirred up until it was a thick, murky brown.  I also told him that I had been taking conventional RA drugs when I tried acupuncture before and that now I was on supplements to control inflammation.  He felt that perhaps this time I would not flare up like I did because I have already spent so much time detoxing my body.

The visit: My experience before was in a large building, set with a receptionist, several doctors on hand, ringing phones, a waiting room, and when I went in, I had a diagnostic machine that claimed to tell me which organs in my body were not working correctly.  To this day I wonder if there was any truth to that.  Since that had been my first and only visit to acupuncture, I was surprised but not disappointed to arrive at a quaint town-house and I settled in to a cozy room.  It was personal, lovely and I felt confident that Michael knew exactly what I was trying to accomplish.  The needles were chose carefully.  Just a couple were inserted into the palms of my hands and a few to each of the tops of my feet.  Michael told me the needles in my palms were points specifically found to reduce inflammation in arthritic hands.

Next time we would do more, but for now, no need to stir up the mud in the water too much.  As I lied there, I could feel some activity happening.  My feet weren’t changing in sensations, but my hands were stirring up the mud.  They started to become a little stiff and I could feel pain starting in on my wrists.  I was amazed that just two little needles on each palm could have such a big effect.  (My hands generally don’t feel pain but used to before my change in therapy).  I was worried that I’d have very swollen hands and wrists for the rest of the day.  I took some deep breaths and told myself, “give into the process”.  I finally relaxed, settling into a comfortable state, listening to the beautiful music and enjoying the ambiance.  When the experience was over, I set up another appointment for next Saturday and drove back home.

I was a little more swollen on my way home, just in my hands.  But as the day progressed, the swelling ceased, and my hands feel a little less inflamed than usual.  It could be a placebo effect since I know that acupuncture usually doesn’t work this quickly.  Still, I’m happy about my experience and excited about the prospect of fixing the tail ends of my inflammation once and for all.  Maybe THIS will really work.  In the meantime, I plan on telling all of you everything about it!

5 Responses

  1. Thanks for your support Cathy!

  2. You know, I don’t remember if it reduced the inflammation at all, but it absolutely reduced the pain. I even dozed off on the table during the session — something I hadn’t thought I’d do. I was lucky to get this particular session for free, as I was doing a story on the accupunturist — he was the first our small town had ever had, and worked out of a local chiro’s office. I hadn’t planned on even trying it (the idea of needles stuck in me gave me the shivers) but the fellow, the chiro and my photographer talked me into it! Afterward, the accupuncturist told me that weekly sessions would probably be beneficial. I’d have loved to do that, but … insurance issues, and not enough money to pay out of pocket. Still, it was literally the first time any therapy, outside of narcotics, had ever reduced my pain. I was duly impressed.

    Rheuma is strange in me; sometimes my joints swell (along with the pain), and sometimes they don’t. I’m guessing the inflammation is there all the time, regardless. I wish I had a way to know, outside of having blood drawn! :)

  3. How exciting for you! Like you I have to take alternative methods slow as they do get things moving in my body. I think acupuncture is a great choice. I can’t wait to hear more.

  4. Wren,

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience! I wish you had had a chance to have more experiences with acupuncture, so you can tell me more about it. :) Well there’s no doubt the research is behind accupuncture reducing pain, but I would be thrilled to have it completely eliminate the inflammation in my hands. Did you notice a reduction in inflammation that day? Thanks so much for sharing your story!!

  5. I had a very good experience with accupuncture back in the late 90s. Not only did the technique relieve about 70 percent of my pain that same day, but I left the accupuncturist’s office so relaxed it was amazing. As in your case, I asked the accupuncturist to concentrate on my hands and feet, both of which were quite sore that day. The relief lasted for roughly three days afterward.

    Unfortunately, my medical insurance at the time would not pay for accupuncture, so I was unable to set up regular appointments. I get my healthcare through the VA, and they DO offer it as a pain-relief option, though they have very few accupuncturists available, so getting an appointment takes a long, long time. I’m on the list. I’d really like to know if that great result the first time will be repeated now, so many years later.

    Good luck with it! I hope it helps you.

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