Posts Tagged ‘Acupuncture’

Exactly seven days ago (as of this writing anyway) I came down with a stabbing pain in the middle of my back. It was (is) absolute agony.  I have no idea from whence it came.  Did it come as the result of my first easy drill run that afternoon, or is it the residual effect of lugging around heavy tents and wet floor mats on and off a truck for the SunRype Tri-KiDS days earlier?  I dunno.  All I do know is that it feels like somebody is repetitively plunging a carving knife into my back.  It totally blows.

I initially thought it was a knot or some sort of muscle spasm and tried to treat it with a topical pain relief lotion but that only ended up with my nearly getting third degree burns (click HERE).  I then dosed myself up on ibuprofen to no avail. I even went so far as to have a co-worker at the office walk on my back.  Nada.  Although I might have developed a new fetish for Geisha girls.

Nothing worked.  The pain just got increasingly worse and worse and for five days I barely slept and I pretty much existed in a constant state of agony and while things have improved marginally since then, I am still in lots of discomfort and I’m popping Tylenols like Pez.  Likewise, I’m now constantly walking around slouched over like a vampire cowering away from the sun.

FML.

This was supposed to be my big week back to Ironman training and here I am barely able to make it up the stairs without crying out in pain.  Needless to say I’m pretty frustrated.

Eventually I figured that I had had enough and decided to call in the Big Guns, namely the good people at Legacy Health & Performance, my go-to peeps for all things ouchie.  I booked a massage appointment with Nicole and also received an initial adjustment and assessment by Dr. Burr.  Neither really seemed to know what the issue was as it’s very difficult to treat something so completely systemic.

FML x 2.

I went to my family doctor and was told it was a simple muscle spasm (it wasn’t) and that I should just try and relax and wait for it to pass.  Oh, and she prescribed me some anti-inflammatories which were rather like throwing water balloons at a twelve alarm fire.  Fuckers!  Relax?  Yeah, right!  Ever try to relax  with an ice pick constantly being twisted between your shoulder blades?

Good luck with that.

Since then we have made some progress (at Legacy, not the doctor) in that we now realize that my symptoms (as they’ve changed somewhat since the first few days) indicate something known as ‘Dorsal Scapular Nerve Syndrome’ (click HERE).

Sounds catchy, eh?

Hey, wait, I thought it was dolphins and whales that had dorsals?

Nevermind.

Basically, DSNS is characterized by symptoms of a generalized dull ache along the medial border of the scapula, radiating into the lateral surface of the arm and forearm (which has only started to occur recently).  Now, when you read “Dull” here, think “OMFG that’s torture!”  because, baby, it was.  “Dull” just doesn’t do it justice at all.

So what’s the plan of attack?

Acupuncture.

FML x 3.

I’ve actually had acupuncture before years ago when I was suffering from plantar fasciitis.  At the time I was seeing some quack chiropractor who was more interested in hooking me up to his TENS unit which, I’m sure, was a relic of the Cold War.  Afterwards he would jab a few needles into the souls of my feet and then fuck off for an hour or so leaving me alone in the darkened room to contemplate by pathetic circumstance.

I still remember my first appointment. When I entered the examining room he immediately lowered the lights, closed the blinds and switched on some soothing muzac.  I recall thinking: “is he going to treat me or fuck me?”

Now, if you’ve never had needles plunged into the souls of your feet before it’s really no different than what you’re probably thinking already:  it sucks.  An action you would expect to be preceded by the statement “we ‘av vays of making you talk”.  Anyway, this process repeated itself a few times a week for over a year with no improvement whatsoever.  I realize now being a bit older and wiser, that he was just milking my benefits until they ultimately ran out and I was cast aside like a discarded coffee cup.

That was seven years ago and my feelings about acupuncture are largely connected to that experience.  A barbaric practice geared more towards satisfying the sadistic impulses of the administrator than for the benefit and ultimate relief of the patient.The whole thing kinda made me feel like this:

Or, maybe this guy:

I wasn’t a fan.

So when Dr. Burr suggested we also try acupuncture I was all like:

However, in an effort to make peace with this whole acupuncture thing I decided to do a little research on why so many people seem to accept and appreciate it as a viable treatment practice.  After all, how can 1.3 billions Chinese people be wrong?

Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine and a key component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) involving inserting thin needles into the body at acupuncture points.  Most commonly, it is associated with pain relief. Acupuncture as a practice can be traced back at least 2,500 years.  The general theory is based on the premise that there are patterns of energy flow (Qi) through the body that are essential for health.  Disruptions of this flow are believed to be responsible for disease.  Acupuncture may, it has been theorized, correct imbalances of flow at identifiable points close to the skin.

The practice of acupuncture to treat identifiable pathophysiological (disease) conditions in American medicine was rare until the visit of President Richard M. Nixon to China in 1972.  Since that time, there has been an explosion of interest in the United States and Europe in the application of the technique of acupuncture to Western medicine.

Now, does any of this help my feelings towards acupuncture?

Not one bit.

So Tricky Dick liked him some acupuncture.

Whoopee shit.

But desperate times call for desperate measures, plus I trust Dr. Burr implicitly (she did successfully lay out the foundation for the whole “We Can Rebuild Him” plan two years ago).  So if acupuncture is what she recommends, acupuncture is what I will do.  I made another appointment then with Nicole who also doubles as the clinics acupuncture specialist.

At my appointment I was invited to lie face down on the massage table which, it has to be said, is my favorite thing about the Legacy Health & Performance clinic as this table and I have really bonded over the past two years. This made sense given that I wouldn’t be getting needles into my feet today but, rather, my back and neck.  This was fine by me as I’d rather not watch the entire process as I had before, thank you very much.  Nicole asked me try and relax which, again, I find to be pretty impossible given the situation.  I did my best however.

For the next 5-10 minutes or so, she popped these needles into specific spots in the back of my neck, my back and along my left arm and hand since I have been experiencing numbness and a tingling sensation down my left side.  Oh, and let’s not forget about the one that she stuck directly into the top of my head.

Ever had a needle shoved into the top of your head?

Yeah.

Once they were all in and I adequately resembled a human pin cushion I was left to “relax” (there’s that word again) for 15 minutes or so before they were then extracted which, I must say, was less harrowing then the whole inserting them thing.

Did I notice any improvement afterwards?

Maybe a little.

Did I find it relaxing?

Shit no.

Will I go again?

If it’s suggested, sure.

Will I enjoy it anymore?

Doubtful.

But if it’s a means to an end to get over this damnable pain in my back once and for all so I get on with my Ironman training (nevermind just being able to sleep normally again), I will do whatever it takes.

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Needles in the head and all.