The Bulging Disc and Back Pain…

Linda came to the office with her MRI report in hand. The report revealed minimal disc bulges in her lower back from lumbar 2 to lumbar 5, and degenerative bony ridges from lumbar 5 into sacral 1.

The good news was that she did not require surgery or have a more serious condition like a herniation of the discs or spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal cord). The bad news was that she was in constant pain and had a limited range of motion throughout her lower back.

Linda had been suffering with right-sided back pain for the past fourteen months. She experienced daily pain varying anywhere from a dull ache to sharp and shooting pain. Linda had to limit any bending or twisting, and had even giving up exercising on her stationary bike because of the pain.

The doctor had prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs and muscular relaxants along with physical therapy. The physical therapy had helped reduce the stiffness in her low back, but did not help with her pain levels.

Linda wanted to be able to stop taking her anti-inflammatories and her pain medications as she felt they were affecting her health adversely. But without a solution, she was still in too much pain and discomfort to stop.


During our intake, Linda was anxious and concerned that she would suffer from stiffness, pain, and limited range of motion in her lower back for the rest of her life. Linda was a 42-year-old single mother with an 11-year-old son to support. She had endured a contentious divorce several years back and had been given sole custody of her son, which left very little time for self-care or exercise.

Linda was forced […]

By |February 27th, 2013|Case Study|Comments Off on The Bulging Disc and Back Pain…

Oh My Aching Lower Back and Hip…

Back pain can sideline the strongest of us. When an ache becomes a chronic pain, even something as small as a single step can feel like too much. Here is one woman’s story of coming back from the sidelines to recover from a seemingly endless amount of pain, and how acupuncture helped.

Mindy’s Pain

Mindy came to my office after suffering for one year from bursitis in her right hip and referred tightness and soreness in her low back. She had made all the rounds with the medical doctors and had all the tests and procedures needed to diagnose bursitis of the hip. At the end of the day she was told to take over the counter anti-inflammatories and have physical therapy sessions twice weekly.

Even with the anti-inflammatories and physical therapy, the pain was unbearable. Too much walking, standing, or sitting caused the hip to ache, which then referred into the right side of her back and into her right knee. She had difficulty getting up and down from seated positions. She walked with a limp and could not get comfortable sitting, standing, or lying down. Her sleep was disturbed because her hip pain woke her throughout the night. She had a 24/7 pain cycle that kept her very stressed, anxious, and depressed.

After months of painful physical therapy did nothing to relive the hip and back pain, Mindy’s doctor resorted to injections of cortisone shots into her aching hip. But this proved ineffective as well. Her doctor told her to take her medications daily for the pain and that she should “be happy that she didn’t have arthritis in her hip.” She felt dismissed and discouraged with this “recommendation.”

Why Acupuncture?

Through the entire ordeal Mindy had also […]

By |February 6th, 2013|Case Study|Comments Off on Oh My Aching Lower Back and Hip…

Oh My Aching Back…

Back pain is one of the most common and costly conditions that motivates people to seek medical attention. Did you know that more than one million people in the USA are affected with back pain, costing an estimated 37 million dollars annually? This adds up to millions of hours of lost work and productivity, not to mention the pain and suffering of countless people.

Half of all adults will experience some form of back pain in their lifetime, making this a significant source of inconvenience and suffering. This is also one of the most common reasons that many patients seek my help with acupuncture and herbal treatments. Back pain comes in many shapes and sizes, intensities, and durations, making the treatment of each patient an individualized one.

How Does Back Pain Present?

Common causes of back pain are sprains and strains that can occur from over-stretching or over-loading the muscles and ligaments. This can occur suddenly, as with a fall or accident, or over time through wear and tear from poor posture, improper use, or structural imbalances (like scoliosis, curative of the spine).

Other common ways back pains present are:

Disc herniation or subluxation — when a disc that is the inner cushioning between the vertebrae bulges out causing compression of the nerve root in some cases. This can cause referred pain to other areas of the body.
Sciatica — a nerve that begins at the spinal cord and goes to the hips, buttocks, and then branches down each leg. It is when the sciatica nerve is irritated or inflamed that one experiences pain, most often radiating into the buttocks or down the legs, causing pain, numbness, and muscle weakness.
Osteoarthritis — when wear and tear on the joints […]

By |January 23rd, 2013|Case Study|Comments Off on Oh My Aching Back…

The Infertile Patient, Isn’t… and Becomes Pregnant

The distraught patient… fertility and Chinese Medicine

When studying Chinese Medicine in school I was never prepared for the emotional roller coaster ride of treating an infertility patient. I studied acupuncture point prescription and herbal protocol for enhancing the endocrine system, but there was never a mention of assisted reproduction with drugs and surgery. When I opened my own practice, I found myself integrating ancient medicine with modern cutting-edge fertility treatments. You have to be a quick study to keep up with this new approach in treating the many patients that come knocking at the doors of Chinese Medicine clinics!

“Fertility enhancement” is the term I like to use with my patients — from my point of view “infertility” sounds so doomed and final. These patients need hope, understanding, and a treatment plan that can increase the chances for becoming pregnant with a healthy baby! Happily, Chinese Medicine is effective in doing just that.

The Science Behind Fertility Treatments

Many studies have been published and books have been written that show the profound benefits of acupuncture and herbal medicine for enhancing fertility. One recent study from Israel showed a 42.5% pregnancy rate when acupuncture treatment was used in conjunction with assisted reproduction, as compared to the 21.3% of assisted reproduction without acupuncture treatment. This gives a huge leg up to the fertility patient.

These exciting studies and books have piqued the interest of fertility doctors, clinics, and patients seeking additional help in achieving their dreams of becoming parents. It is commonplace for fertility clinics to also recommend acupuncture treatment alongside the IUI (Intrauterine insemination fertilization) and IVF (In vitro fertilization) protocols for their patients. These studies have actually altered the number of fertility patients that are seen weekly […]

By |January 16th, 2013|Case Study|Comments Off on The Infertile Patient, Isn’t… and Becomes Pregnant

The Desperate Patient

The Desperate Patient … who finds her way

As an acupuncturist, I frequently get desperate phone calls, e-mails, and texts from patients that have exhausted every avenue trying to cure their affliction and in a last ditch, “what the hell effort,” have decided to give acupuncture a try. OY!! These patients tend to be my hardest cases, as they are frustrated, scared, angry, mistrusting, and downright exhausted from seeking help and getting none.

Sometimes their expectations are high — they want a miracle to occur and want to be healed in one to two treatments just like their friends, colleagues, or spouses. Other times their expectations are low — they are total non-believers in Chinese Medicine, but there are no other choices left for them to try but this “voodoo” medicine. Starting a relationship with either too much or too little trust and unrealistic expectations is a tough way to begin.

It is a hard road working with and educating the so-called “difficult-to-treat patients” that are most often discarded from the western medical community. These patients are sometimes labeled “crazy,” “difficult,” “non-compliant,” “not listening,” “too demanding,” ”hysterical,” or just plain “silly.” This may be so, but to get shuffled off to another expert while being left without answers and meaningful treatment plans seems unfair.

This is the very type patient that called me last year. The patient, Anita, was utterly distraught and very frightened about her health condition when we first spoke on the phone. She came for a consultation after getting my name from a very satisfied colleague.
Anita wanted to have a face-to-face meeting to discuss her health issues before committing to acupuncture or herbal treatment.

It was a fall day when Anita, a very sweet, pleasant, Caucasian, […]

By |January 9th, 2013|Case Study|Comments Off on The Desperate Patient