Acupuncture is a wonderful treatment for pain management. Avascular necrosis (AVN) of the knee and psoriatic arthritis (PsA) are extremely painful on their own, let alone combined! My knee was finally settling down and the complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) was pretty much gone. The AVN specialist that I was seeing at the time said that he wouldn’t recommend a joint replacement. He wanted me to wait and see if I could get my pain to a tolerable level so that I could walk on my leg until my femur completely collapsed. I wasn’t really convinced this was the best approach to helping my avascular necrosis (AVN), but I looked to the ‘specialist’ to give me the best advice.
Going to a pain management doctor who mixed eastern and western medicine was amazing. I was nervous at first because I had no idea what I was getting into, but in the end it was so worth it.
The first time I went my Mom came with me. As we were sitting in the examination room waiting for the doctor to come in we speculated on how it would go. Would I be laying down on a table? Would he put the needles in my back? My leg? My face? I had seen pictures of acupuncture before and that’s what my picture of the treatment was.
The Doc came in and was so positive, as usual. His enthusiasm and positivity was infectious. It’s so wonderful to have a doctor who really radiates the feeling that he can help you and manage your pain. I can honestly say they are few and far between out there. He explained that he would put the needles in ‘sweet spots’, as he called them, on my knee and would hook up an stim machine to send electronic pulses through the needles. This would help to reset and redirect my nerves.
He had me just sit in a chair and 1,2,3 *pop* hit the needles into the sweet spot. I thought it would hurt more than it did. I will say when he would hit a ‘really sweet spot’ it would hurt a lot more. But it would sting for maybe 3 seconds and that was it. The stim machine attached onto the needles just like jumper cables hook up to a car battery. And that was it! I sat there for 20-30 minutes and let the machine happen. The first couple times I was tense and I would consciously need to relax my body at first, but when the treatment was over my whole body was so relaxed. What other pain management treatment makes you feel like you just had a yoga session?
When I first had my consultation he mentioned a ‘magic bullet’ for anxiety and I wasn’t leaving before I had that bullet! Once my acupuncture session was over the pain management Doc came in, took out the needles and then would get out the supplies for the anxiety magic bullet. To my surprise it was a 24 karat gold needle that he stuck at the top of both of my ears. They came with a little magnet and whenever I was feeling anxious I was supposed to take that magnet, put it over the gold needle and twist it back and forth. The great thing about the magic bullet was that it was hitting a ‘sweet spot’ that would automatically help me lower my anxiety anyways. They were to stay in my ear until they fell out. Sometimes I would realize when they fell out and others I had no idea. They would stay in about 3-4 days. I was going to see the Doc once a week so the next trip he would put it back in. Honestly, at this point I was really tired of having anxiety and wanted to get rid of it so bad. I was trying EVERYTHING in my power to get rid of it. After getting this ‘magic bullet’ about 4 times my anxiety level went from about a 10 to a 3. This part of the treatment alone was WORTH IT!
The Doc said that I probably wouldn’t see any results, in terms of pain management, and if I did it would be temporary. Apparently it would take a good 4ish sessions before I would really start seeing results. So going into the second treatment I was excited to see what he thought of how the first session went.
He was overly positive and said that these treatments were really going to help me. This time he wanted to try something else to help me get the swelling down which he believed would also help in my pain management. The second session he introduced me to cupping. I had heard of it before, but really wasn’t sure how it worked. He had these little suction cup things that he would pump onto my leg. As he suctioned them on it would putt my skin into the cup. It looked crazy weird. It was a weird feeling, but it didn’t hurt. Between the suction cups he put the acupuncture needles in. I mentioned to him that my right wrist really bothers me from time to time as well from the psoriatic arthritis. He ended up putting a needle in my hand as well. That one little needle in my hand helped my wrist tremendously. There was a long time where I thought I possibly had carpal tunnel because every time I would use my laptop my wrist and arm would go numb and would hurt. I spent years wearing a splint on my wrist at night to immobilize it hoping that giving it rest would help it. Nope! Never really helped. All I needed was for an asian doctor to stick a needle into it! 😉 haha!!! (the OVERLY simplified fix- right? lol)
My leg looked so funny after cupping. The Doc said that the more it bruised the better it worked. The first time I really didn’t have lasting bruises. Of course I had these circles on my leg for a few hours, but then they would go away. It wasn’t until later treatments where I would get bruises that looked like giant hickeys on my leg! haha!
At this point in my pain management regiment my knee wasn’t extremely swollen. It was not like a regular knee, but it definitely wasn’t what it had been the previous 8 months. After a few cupping and acupuncture sessions my knee looked almost normal! For the FIRST TIME IN A YEAR AND A HALF my knee looked like my right knee! I was BLOWN away! I couldn’t even believe it. I had tried so many different things- my own stim machine, ice, heat, anti-inflammatories, rest, elevation, meditation, yoga, physical therapy, essential oils, the list could go on and on – but this really helped get the swelling down.
I continued going to see the pain management doctor for acupuncture and cupping sessions for a good 8 or 9 weeks. At that point we decided that I would only need to come in on an as needed basis. I left him in September and I actually haven’t been back since. (Now that I think about it, I’m not sure why I haven’t been back to see him. I should make an appointment because my wrist is going numb while I type this!)
After September I can honestly say that my knee pain has been at a ‘manageable’ level. And you need to take that with a grain of salt because the avascular necrosis pain and burning really won’t go away until I correct the dead bone.
I received my acupuncture treatments from a doctor who attended medical school in China. I cannot attest to acupuncture treatments done at other places. I would recommend trying this treatment out to anyone who has any kind of pain. And not even pain- my anxiety was helped TREMENDOUSLY by this treatment!
Have you ever had acupuncture treatments done before? I’d love to hear your experiences! Leave them in the comments below. And feel free to ask any questions that you may have 🙂
Wishing You A Pain Free Day!