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Boston Acupuncture Clinic and Boca Raton Acupuncture | Article

Acupuncture and Sciatica Pain

1/20/2015
Attorney Holmes was born in Boston into a relatively poor family. He took odd jobs shoveling snow and doing street paving as a teenager. Then he went into the army for three years which help to provide tuition for college. He started drinking alcohol when he was serving the army in Boston area. In his early forties, he decided to quit alcohol because he finally realized that drinking made him feel horrible afterwards, plus he believed the alcohol could cause the damage of his brain cells. Since he had been trained to be a much disciplined person in the US army, once he decided to quit drinking, he was able to quit completely. But years of drinking did cause some hormone imbalances, the abnormal estrogen level stimulated his prostate and in his seventies, he developed prostate cancer, had radiation treatment, and developed impotence for a while after surgery due to nerve and blood vessel damage. But because he did not eat junk food or drink alcohol any more, he was physically very healthy. And was able to put his impotence behind him after about a year. His wife was younger than him which may also have contributed to his quick recovery after surgery.

He came to Boston acupuncture clinic four years ago due to his hand numbness and muscle atrophy. He loved to sleep on his stomach. I guess he developed this habit when he was a baby. At the age of 82, he still goes to the court a couple of times a week as a defense lawyer. He walked a mile with his dog every day. He does not take any medication, amazingly he can still sleep through the night for 7 to 8 hours. But he did drink too much coffee: 4 to 5 cups a day before he came to acupuncture treatment. When he first came to see me, his main complaint was hand numbness and weakness, I noticed that his thumb muscles are slightly atrophied. His grip was not firm; sometimes, things dropped out of his hands. He went to see a hand doctor first, who recommended surgery, he was told that surgery may fix the problem, but also may cause chronic pain, swelling and even nerve damage. He decided to try alternative medicine.
The first thing, I recommended was to cut down the coffee to one to two cups a day. Because acupuncture helps his body produce endorphins, serotonin and dopamine, it became easier to cut down his coffee while he was in treatment. The coffee did not interrupt his sleep, but did cause blood vessel constriction in his hands and feet, and also stimulated his heart rate and made his upper shoulder muscle very tight, I told him, if he could cut down to one cup each day, he might still stimulate his brain cells but not sacrifice his heart and hand health. He gradually cut down coffee. I also found out that he slept on his stomach with his head turn to one side, which may have caused tight muscles, and pinched his cervical nerves. If the compression of the nerves lasted for too long, his hand muscle could be getting weaker and weaker. I chose the points on his neck and foot to deeply relax the neck muscles, then used electrical acupuncture to facilitate the regeneration of the hand nerves which strengthened his hand muscles. Once the blood circulation on his neck and hand were improved, the hand muscle quickly become stronger. After 24 treatments, his hand function recovered completely. He stopped treatment during the winter.

Two years later, he came back with severe hip, leg, and ankle pain. The pain was so bad that he had to take Aleve in the morning in order to walk around. I treated him once with electrical stimulation, combining points on his lower back and leg. He felt instant relief in one day. Then he had such strong pain in the morning two days later that he had to double his pain killer. He was so afraid that he could not walk every day that he decided to increase acupuncture treatments to two or three times a week. I noticed that his pain was located along the L3, L4 and L5 distribution area. In the morning his pain was the worst, moving around help relieve the pain. Considering his sleeping posture, which may have been tightening his periform muscle and irritated the sciatic nerves. I recommend that he sleep on his back. Initially, he would have to periodically turn to his stomach because that had been his preferred position for the past 84 years. In this way he would not stay on one position for too long. He might sleep on his back for 3 hours and then sleep on his stomach for another 4 hours. Combining the position changes and acupuncture treatment twice a week, we successfully got rid of this new pain within three weeks.