I always loved hedgehogs …

Acupuncture models

… now I get to look like one. Sort of.

I’m leaving in a few hours for an appointment with an acupuncturist, hoping that this alternative treatment will help to alleviate some of the rheuma pain I’m experiencing in my hands and wrists.

I believe that it will, although I know that it isn’t a cure. Years ago I did a story on a local acupuncturist in our small, rural town. He was the first the area had ever had, and acupuncture was exotic enough to warrant a story in the local newspaper.

On the day of the interview my hands and feet were hurting me. A medium-sized flare — I was mobile, I was working, but the pain was ever-present. I was very curious about acupuncture, of course. I wondered if it might work for rheumatoid arthritis, whether it was affordable, and whether it hurt. The idea of having someone stick needles in me was shudder-worthy, however. I’ve never had a phobia of needles like some people have, but it still didn’t sound like it could be in the least bit pleasant. And the whole thing seemed a bit woo-woo, if you know what I mean.

A local chiropractor was sharing his office with the new acupuncturist, a Chinese man who had little English. So for the first half-hour of the interview, I spoke mainly to the chiro, who was well-informed about acupuncture and who could explain, in laymens terms, what it involved and who could conjecture as to why it worked. I also spoke with the acupuncturist’s wife, a sweet, round lady who acted as his assistant and who could speak considerably more English. Once I had enough information, they invited me back to his treatment room so I could see the needles and other equipment.

As we walked back there, the acupuncturist said something to his wife. She turned to me and asked if I was in pain — they’d both noticed that I was limping. “Yes,” I said, a little embarrassed. “I have rheumatoid arthritis.” I shrugged. “My hands and feet are flared up today. It’s not bad, though.”

She translated this. Her husband smiled. “You?” he said. “You want to try?”

I looked at the photographer that had come with me. She grinned. “Great pictures,” she said. The chiropractor chimed in. “Do it!” he urged. “What a great way to learn about it! It could help, you know. And it doesn’t hurt. Really.”

Wow. The things I’ll do for a story … “All right, then. Yes.” I was a little scared; needles! Sticking in me! Needles!

Well, I’m here today to tell you that I lived through the experience. Just as the chiro said, it didn’t hurt. Not even a little. In fact, the whole thing was so relaxing that I actually dozed off on the table with those thin, threadlike needles sticking out of my hands and feet. The photographer got some great photos.

And when I left, my pain had been reduced to about 30 percent of what it had been when I walked in. In addition, I felt wonderful. Almost euphoric. It’s a good thing the photographer was driving that day.

I would have liked to become a regular client to the town’s new acupuncturist, but the cost was prohibitive and my medical insurance didn’t cover it. Still, I never forgot that experience. It was the only time anything other than narcotic painkillers ever relieved the pain of a rheuma flare. I was deeply, deeply impressed. And of course, I wrote a nice story for the paper. I hope it brought the acupuncturist and his wife a decent living.

So. I have to get ready to go to this new acupuncturist and try it again. I’ll report back with results, I promise!

8 thoughts on “I always loved hedgehogs …

  1. Wren
    I am having lots of finger problems lately and had forgotten about accupuncture. I may try it again. Good luck with it. I feel very relaxed just like I had a gentle massage and I really did see results for post op muscle spasams after my second c-spine fusion. It didn’t cross my mind for the RA, so thank you for mentioning it. At the very least it will relax you and we sometimes need all the relaxation we can get.
    Take care


  2. I like penguins, but you won’t catch me diving into an icey bath and trying to catch a raw fish in my mouth!!

    Seriously though, I really hope it works as well for you this time … and super brave of you last time, I must say!!!



  3. I hope it works for you; I can’t wait to read what you post about the experience! I’d love to try it out sometime. My dad has gone for acupuncture for a rotator cuff problem and always found quite long-lasting relief from the pain (not the same thing as RA, I know, but still…).

    Cheers, L


  4. That was such a great introduction to acupuncture. I’ve never had it, but I think if I were in fairly constant pain, it would be something I would try. In fact, this reminds me that I should recommend such a thing to my sister who suffers horribly from migraines. I look forward to your post treatment assessment.


  5. Back in the day when our health care system covered things like acupuncture and physiotherapy I had it quite regularly for my hands. I also had hot wax treatments. Both worked extremely well for me. Now that it’s no longer provided the cost is prohibitive for me. Good luck, I hope it works for you…ciao


  6. Pingback: I always loved hedgehogs, Part 2 « RheumaBlog

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