It all started with a simple dream: To be swoll. In college it seemed like everybody wanted to be ripped. Naturally I had to keep up with the bros if I was going to command the respect that an undeclared major deserves. Total fail when I ended up injuring my lower back along the way while foolishly deadlifting no weight at all. Makes sense. I’ve been somewhat of a string bean most of my life.
My back hurt increasingly more and more as the days wore on. I saw all kinds of doctors and back specialists that first month. Then a few more in the coming months and years. Got my fill of year old waiting room People and Us Weekly magazines with the subscriber information torn off. I figured things would eventually get better. I mean I was trying it all.
- Physical therapy.
- Steroid pills and shots.
- Pain killers.
- Magic beans.
These things marginally helped, and even left me pain free for short lengths of time. Damage was done however. A few dislocated discs in my back and more inflammation in the area than a southern California wildfire. No real way to “fix” myself. It has been 15 years now. The warranty on this body is long gone and I’ve lived with the pain during this time and learned to cope.
About 2 years ago, I was convinced to give acupuncture a try. I resisted at first, citing quackery, and envisioning painful treatment. I was afraid but eventually I thought why not. I tried everything else and came to terms with living in pain indefinitely. So I decided to go all in and looked around for the right practitioner. Treatment didn’t really do anything all that earth-shattering after the first visit, but I persisted. I found that I enjoyed the experience of seeing my acupuncturist, speaking with her about my life and times, and being treated. Unexpectedly I noted that I was mentally and emotionally more confident than a south Indian adolescent in a spelling bee, and great Gatsby after about a month I started to note that my back would hurt a lot less. I started incorporating stretching and some back exercises along with the needles and decreased the pain even more. Eventually I was able to get in and out of my car and out of chairs and couches without the old man grunt. As of this writing, I live most days with minimal to no pain. It’s really rather remarkable, as I spent a decade thinking I’d never escape it, never be free of that constant annoying reminder that I have a weak sauce lower back.
So What Happened?
Will the same thing happen to you if you ever decide to try acupuncture? No idea and who the heck knows. The world works in mysterious ways, friends. There exist volumes of writings, data, anecdotes, and research that suggest that acupuncture methods are extremely useful in maintaining good mental and physical health. A good acupuncturist worth his or her weight in shiny tiny needles will tell you that our bodies are composed of hundreds of energetic pathways that connect parts of our body and run from our head to our feet and everywhere in between. These pathways are like highways that carry Qi (pronounced Chee) or energy throughout our body. And for a variety of reasons, these highways experience congestion, stagnation, 6 car pile ups and jack knifed trailers, resulting in the perception of pain, discomfort, or just general ickiness. Interruptions in energy flow are caused by everything from seemingly minor things such as bumps or bruises to major things such as severe physical injury, depression or anxiety. Armed with this understanding, it becomes easy to see that these roadways need TLC at times. This is where a good acupuncturist is as handy as that bottle opener in your flip flops.
If you feel like you’ve tried everything that traditional western methods have to offer, and your 15 minute insurance won’t cover a witch doctor, I’d give a nod to eastern medicine and consider acupuncture, which is just one of many different options available in eastern disciplines. You probably know at least one person in your life that goes to acupuncture fairly regularly. Ask that person for advice or referrals or thoughts. And don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt.
- Need to get your learn on a bit more? This is where I went for information and treatment when I first started.
- In the DC area, I’d recommend Illuminated Point Wellness, where I go now.
- Avoid exercise that exacerbates your pain. Get into swimming or cycling. Time to find that all too fitting yet still appropriate speedo or re-up on a Capital Bikeshare membership.
- Be open minded about all of the different ways in which you can manage and treat pain and discomfort.
- Get rid of your pain and get back to crushing high scores on Flappy Bird.