Chronic pain is a life altering condition for millions of Americans. Conventional medical treatment has been pain killing medications, followed by stronger meds, then stronger, and so on, until the frustrated sufferer is addicted and/or taken off the drugs by the prescribing doctor, either way leaving the patient in a world of hurt. Most of us have read recently about unscrupulous doctors earning millions of dollars intentionally over prescribing narcotics to helpless victims, and the record number of overdose deaths from people who have, in desperation, turned to heroin when cut off from their prescription pain pills. The good news is that the state of Oregon has taken action to correct this disastrous situation: chronic pain patients are now being referred directly to acupuncture. A network of statewide agencies have developed a system for providing this safe, effective treatment through Medicaid insurance coverage.
Pain in many forms continues to be the primary condition I see on a day to day basis.
Whether in Scappoose and St Helens or Hillsboro, patients with two types of injuries are showing up in greater numbers recently: traumatic impact, and repetitive motion/overuse.
The traumatic injury cases involve sports, falls and vehicle accidents. Overuse cases are the result of either physically demanding manual labor or sedentary computer work with keyboard and mouse. These is an old saying “death by a thousand cuts” referring to a slow, progressive process with the same result as an intense, rapid swing of the sword. Similarly, daily accumulation of minor traumas at the desk or assembly table results in major pain and often disability. As such, similar techniques and products are used to treat all of these conditions.
Some real cases will help to illustrate this process.
Ryan lived on the wild side a professional snowboarder and skateboarder, accumulating a shopping list of fractures, dislocations and lesser injuries resulting in severe pain and limited ability to perform his construction job. Adam has a history of falls and vehicle accidents, living on methadone and struggling to put the chronic back pain out of his mind. Jane was run over by a truck resulting in body and brain injury. Kim and Alicia suffered disabling head injuries when hit in the head by a cow and clothing rack, respectively.
Others experience severe pain resulting from day to day work. Miss Tran assembles components in electronic equipment. Despite her ever increasing arm pain resulting from performing the same movements of lifting and use of electric screwdriver, her manager won’t allow workers to periodically change tasks, so the problem persists and worsens for her as well as her co-workers. Silvia works for a cleaning service operating a heavy vacuum cleaner on office floors, day after day. She also suffers disabling arm pain from the repeated push and pull action on the machine. Other women develop similar problems in the arms and shoulders from sorting and delivering mail and lifting sterilized medical equipment onto high shelves. Brent does tile work, often kneeling long hours on the floor or bent over a kitchen counter, while Steven and many others spend long hours typing and computing, resulting in life altering neck, shoulder and arm stiffness and pain, worsening over months and years.
So, what do all these people have in common? All chose to try acupuncture, and all are feeling better as the result. Treatments very, of course, but most received acupuncture and ‘gua sha’ where a spoon is used to rub the skin, removing waste material and improving circulation, and far-infrared heat therapy. Several patients also included Chinese herbs to improve their outcomes.
If you are tired of unending courses of drugs and being told that you will just have to get used to it, consider acupuncture as a safe effective treatment option.