I will be the first to admit that when it comes to the topic of acupuncture, I am biased. I hold a Master’s degree in Chinese medicine from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, and I have both lived and studied Chinese medicine in China and Taiwan. Acupuncture has, at times, surpassed my wildest medical expectations (hence the bias). But admittedly, there have been other times when patients (including, on occasion, my partner, who has an SCI) have reported no measurable change in their condition. My point in mentioning these extreme examples is to state, for the record, that acupuncture is not a miracle cure. That said, it can serve a purpose and has been used for thousands of years to treat a myriad of ailments. My goal for this article is to present information and remove the mystique surrounding this ancient healing modality so readers can decide for themselves whether this therapy will add value to their life.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine needles into the body with the aim of achieving a measurable therapeutic effect. There are a variety of methods and styles within acupuncture itself, but the end goal is to have those little needles create some sort of positive change within the body. In order to understand the role of acupuncture, we can imagine for a moment that the human body is essentially like a garden. A garden, as we know, is made up of a variety of plants, all of which require healthy, moisture and nutrient rich soil to grow and thrive. As any avid gardener knows, if the hose used to water the garden has a kink in it, the garden will dry out and parts of it may even begin to die. Acupuncture is a tool that unblocks any kinks in the garden hose within our body, thus restoring balance and bringing water (moisture), blood, and vital nutrients back to areas of disease or disharmony. Acupuncturists are trained to know where to specifically insert needles to unblock restricted areas or redirect circulation towards areas of disease. It really is as simple as that and most people generally consider acupuncture treatments to be a comfortable and relaxing experience.
Because acupuncture aims to improve the overall circulation of blood, body fluids, and energy within the body, it’s potential to assist with symptoms or complications related to SCI/SCD is quite extensive. Acupuncture has had proven results in the treatment of low back pain, and it can assist in the reduction of other ailments such as edema, pain in general, mood issues, and more. It is also know to treat digestive issues, sciatica, and joint or mobility issues. Please see the links at the bottom of this article for more information and consider doing your own research before investing in acupuncture sessions.
If you plan to give acupuncture a try, there are a few things to keep in mind. To begin with, acupuncture generally has a cumulative effect, meaning that frequent and regular treatments are the key to preventing illness and/or maintaining health. Another key to success with acupuncture is finding a proactive acupuncturist that is thorough, creative, and solutions oriented. Ideally, this person has worked with people with SCI/SCD in the past. A third tip is to make sure the clinic location / treatment space works with your particular life situation. While some people enjoy going to a clinic, others might find it difficult to navigate parking, accessibility related issues, or other aspects within a clinic. If it would better serve your lifestyle, do not hesitate to ask an acupuncturist if they are willing to do house calls. Lastly, community based clinics may offer reduced prices for group treatments, if cost is a concern limiting the ability to receive this therapy.
More and more licensed acupuncturists are now working within medical hospitals, rehab centers, and physical therapy clinics. Clearly, the value of this modality is gaining acceptance within mainstream western medical circles and if you are curious how acupuncture may benefit you and if it is covered through your insurance, please contact an acupuncturist in your area or speak with your primary care provider. Lastly, let us know if acupuncture has been of benefit to your life with SCI/SCD.
National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health:
Acupuncture Today Article on Approved Conditions Treated by Acupuncture
According to World Health Organization
Acupuncture Today Links to Acupuncture Associations
Low Back Pain and Acupuncture
Andrea Peruzzi lives in Portland, OR with her spouse, Riley, who happens to be quadriplegic. She documents their inter-abled love adventures, and other disability and access topics on her blog, Poor House Love. Andrea is a trained acupuncturist and loves to write about health and wellness.