I have read several of your articles on acupuncture.
I am currently suffering from a pinched nerve in the S1
area of the lower back due to bulging of that disc. I am
on several pain meds and anti-inflammatory. I am in a therapy
situation as well, but not much progress there so far. Do
you think acupuncture would help me ? Thanks.
What kind of "therapy situation"?
How did this happen?
Does the anti-inflammatory help?
I am doing stretching exercises at home and stretching exercises
in the the pool 3 times a week under the direction of a physical
therapist. I felt it when I twisted wrong. Don't know how long
the problem has been there prior, if at all. I am not sure about
I still feel a tightness in my left calf
and in my left hip area I feel pain. Thanks.
It is quite possible that acupuncture could help you. Although
it can't move the bulging disc, it can release muscle spasms and
relieve pain. Most NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories)
endanger your health by wearing away your stomach lining. This
can lead to something as simple as an ulcer, or as dramatic as
a sudden bleed out. The latter, believe it or not, can kill you
before you even know you need to call 911.
Plus, acupuncture can produce systemic nervous system changes
that may indirectly improve the condition. Acupuncture regulates
the nervous system and prevents chronic pain syndromes. For more
about how acupuncture works, read my acupuncture
Is It Really S1?
You may want to get a second opinion on your diagnosis, unless
it's based on firm MRI or CT evidence, because an S1 nerve root
lesion would produce pain on the outside of the foot and 2 smallest
toes, and affect the ankle reflex
whereas hip and calf pain
would be more likely caused by L1 (hip), and L4,5, or S2 (calf).
Of course, there could be other causes for those symptoms, and
only a thorough one on one examination can tell.
Where the Acupuncturist Will Needle
Your acupuncturist may needle points at the level of the disc
problem, plus points distant from that site ( "My
pain is here! Why'd you needle there?"). Ideally, they
will partner with you, and use the information (medical records)
already gathered by your MD and/or chiropractor - and in this
situation I would advise seeing a chiropractor.
Knowing if Acupuncture Will Work Ahead of Time (Prognosis)
I often get questions about whether acupuncture can help this
or that, and many times the answer is 'possibly.' It really is
a matter of finding an acupuncturist and partnering with them
for a Chinese medicine evaluation and a course of treatments (usually
8 to 10). Medicine is a practice, and practice is a process. Prognosis
(knowing whether a disease will be cured, how much, and when)
is the most difficult task in medicine. More is revealed to the
practitioner each time they work with you.
I wish it were more black and white, but I don't think that's
the way life or medicine is, and if I acted like it were, I could
be wrong, and would be guilty of dishonesty. The real decision
is whether or not to partner with an acupuncturist, and I think
that's definitely a good idea. Whether you will get the results
you want or not is impossible to know ahead of time.
What if Acupuncture Doesn't Work?
Moreover, if after 8 treatments you have NO results, it does
not always mean that acupuncture won't help you, but that another
approach may be better. Not all acupuncturists practice the same
styles, and many acupuncturist know several different styles and
Interviewing the Acupuncturist
That said, there is no way to find out what they practice or
who has experience with your condition without calling them up.
Call a few, and ask them if they've treated your condition or
a similar one, and if they've been able to improve such conditions.
You can find acupuncturists here.
All the best!