A month ago I wrote a blog post about trying acupuncture for the first time. I thought it would be helpful to write a follow-up post detailing how acupuncture therapy has worked out for me over time.
The main reason I tried acupuncture was to treat the two day migraines I was suffering from twice a month. The migraines seemed to be connected to the start and midpoint of my menstrual cycle. Since my acupuncturist made that connection as well, she had me schedule three treatments before I started my next cycle.
Thankfully, the day I got my period I only had a mild headache instead of a migraine. This felt like quite the victory. Go Chinese medicine!
I am in the middle of my cycle now (trust me, I hate typing that personal info as much as you hate reading it) and so far no migraines. I am going in this week to get a couple of treatments to keep warding off the migraine attacks.
Neck and Shoulder Relief
In addition to struggling with migraines, I often have tension in my neck and a sore/weak left shoulder. Since my acupuncturist asked health questions to find out about all my body ailments on my first visit, she would always follow up with me to see how my neck and shoulder were doing when I went in for a treatment. If my neck was tight or shoulder sore, she would add in a needle or two for them. I was surprised at how good my neck felt after leaving her office each visit.
Then, a couple of weeks after I started acupuncture I popped my left shoulder slightly out and then back into joint. This happens to me occasionally when I move wrong and the resulting injury always leads to couple of days of pain. The night of the incident I iced the shoulder and took a naproxen, which are my go to treatments for such ailments. The next morning I awoke to painful muscle spasms in my neck and shoulder. I could barely get out of bed, much less do anything productive. I spent the day taking naproxen, muscle relaxers, and resting, but I still was in a good bit of pain.
Turning it Up a Notch with Electricity
When I was still spasming and painful the next morning, I decided to call my acupuncturist to see if she could help. She got me in withing a couple of hours and began to get to work. This was the first time I had to take off any clothing during my acupuncture treatments, but I was in so much pain I did not care. (Also, I got a nice little hospital gown to cover everything but the parts being treated).
In addition to putting many needles in my back, neck, and hands, my acupuncturist attached what looked like mini jumper cables to a few of my needles. The electric current they delivered felt much like a tens unit. I breathed and prayed as my neck muscles contracted to the pulse of the electricity for about ten minutes. After my acupuncturist disconnected the electoacupuncture (there’s your 25 cent word for the day) and removed the rest of the needles, she began to apply cups to my back.
I have had cupping done before during massage so this did not phase me, but for those of you who have never been cupped I should explain.
Instead of using a downward pressure to relieve muscle tension and pain, cupping uses an upward pulling motion created by a vacuum. The cups my massage therapist uses are plastic and can be moved around your back in a nice stretching, pulling fashion once the vaccum is sealed (think Tupperware). In contrast, the cups my acupuncturist used were glass and the seal was created with a quick heating of the lip of the cup. Once the cups were in place over my injured muscles, they sat there applying an upward suction for about ten minutes.
When the cups were removed with a “ssshweck”, my acupuncturist rubbed my shoulder for a minute and asked how I felt. Honestly, I could feel the relief already. I mostly felt tired after my first intensive treatment, but the fatigue could very well be from not resting well for two nights. After the acupuncture I finally felt pain free enough to sleep deeply. After a nap I got up and moved around a little. I still felt sore and a little tweaky, but the pain was down from an 8 to a 2.
I went back for another round of electroacupuncture and cupping that same week and let me tell you it was worth every dollar I paid (though even with the added treatments the cost was actually pretty reasonable). By the end of that second treatment I was pain free and felt well enough to return to normal activity.
Officially a Fan
A month into my acupuncture therapy I am officially a fan. Being able to lessen (and hopefully cure) my chronic pain without having to take medicine that knocks me out is a really amazing thing.
Acupuncture is not a one time fix. I have done at least one treatment a week for the past month and some weeks have done two. However, my understanding is that over time that frequency will lessen.
In any case I am so grateful to have a competant, caring person that can treat and relieve my migraine and muscular pain. I am excited to see over time what else acupuncture will do for me.