Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: I Don’t Love the Process, But I Love the Results!

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acupuncture for chronic painI’ve suffered from chronic, recurring pain in my upper left side since I was a teenager. I have always been active–running, biking, or swimming six days a week–and I can only assume that the pain is the result of a sports injury in my teens; no one has been able to tell me one way or the other. Trust me, I’ve asked! For years, I looked into every possibility – pinched nerve, tumor, fibromyalgia, stress – but no one could diagnosis the problem. After consulting with many specialists, I stopped looking for a ‘cure’ and started focusing on troubleshooting the issue. My goal was to manage the pain so I could get on with my life.

I finally found a doctor in New Jersey specializing in chiropractic neurology. Regular treatments at his office helped to mitigate the pain, which was a huge improvement. But, when I relocated to Wilmington, NC for work, I had to leave him, and the relief he provided, behind.

Professionally, I work as a clinical researcher.   I deal with scientific studies, clinical trials, and Western medicine. My mom kept encouraging me to try acupuncture, but I didn’t put much stock in Eastern medicine. Finally, despite my skepticism, I relented. I polled my Facebook friends, asking if anyone could recommend a local acupuncturist. One of my friends suggested Robert at Acupuncture Associates, so I called his office and set up my first appointment.

I’ll admit – I’m not the ideal acupuncture patient. I’ve heard other people describe the experience as “relaxing” and “spa-like,” and while Robert is very kind and gentle, and the office is clean and comfortable, lying on a table for thirty minutes without moving is not my idea of relaxation. A year later, even though I still find it difficult to relax while receiving treatments, I continue to go because they work. Acupuncture helps me manage my pain, and that’s worth going back.

It’s so effective that I even pay out of pocket for my care. I work for a large corporation, but insurance doesn’t cover acupuncture. At first, when I was going weekly, the appointments added up. Now that I go about once a month, it’s more manageable; you can’t put a price on feeling good.

To be clear, my pain has not been completely eradicated. It still comes back at times, but it’s easier to manage with acupuncture. Robert is sensitive to my needs and I feel comfortable talking to him and asking questions. I keep a pain log now, which has helped me identify triggers, such as stress, hormonal changes, and moments when I’m more sensitive than others. Cold water, for example, makes the pain worse, a connection I never made until I started working with Robert. I take herbs, but not regularly, because I don’t like taking pills of any kind. And even though lying on the table for those thirty minutes each month is challenging, the experience has helped me mentally. Thanks to acupuncture, things that used to cause a lot of stress, like frequent travel for my job, are much easier to handle.

Do I love the process of receiving acupuncture treatments? No. Do I love the way it makes me feel and how it’s improved my life? Absolutely. Those are facts that this clinical researcher gladly accepts. – D.G.

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