Case Studies

Acupuncture for an Easier Surgery

| November/December 2004

Amanda had been coming into my clinic for two years to receive treatments for her chronic lower back pain and fatigue. One day, she asked what acupuncture could do for her anxiety about an upcoming surgery on a bone spur in her neck that had been troubling her for many years. Acupuncture, herbs, massage and other approaches had helped her live with the pain, but had not eliminated it.

“The surgery sounds terrible, and reading about the procedure didn’t inspire confidence,” she said. “They cut your neck open from the front and move everything aside to saw off the spurs.” She went on for some time about it, but I’ll spare you the gruesome details.

The Importance of Relaxation

After our discussion, we took some time to create a relaxing atmosphere. I worked on her feet and her neck and shoulders — gently — with acupressure and polarity therapy. I placed needles in her heart meridian and other key calming points, especially in her ear.

Shen men (which means “heavenly gate”) is an effective point for helping calm the mind or spirit in many situations, and it’s a point that can be used anytime. Use your fingernail, or squeeze your ear with your thumb and forefinger at the correct point (see illustration) for a few minutes whenever you feel anxious or nervous. Try to find the tenderest spot and keep on applying steady pressure. You should experience some discomfort at first, and soon, if you have the correct point, it will begin to “hurt so good,” and you will notice a decided calming effect. The Shen men point can be pressed every few hours, or any time you feel anxious or unsettled.

Amanda went home with an “ear seed” I had applied to provide pressure to the correct location. This traditional treatment consists of a small piece of tape over a tiny metal “seed” that creates continuous pressure on the exact spot located by the acupuncturist. You can add extra pressure to the seed with your thumb and forefinger as needed.

Impressive Research Results

When you think of acupuncture, you are likely to imagine its pain-relieving effects, for which it is best known. Pain specialists are very aware of this association. A survey published in 2000 showed that, of 362 pain specialists throughout the United States who responded to the survey, 84 percent said they considered acupuncture a legitimate medical practice for relieving pain, and 69 percent either practiced it themselves or referred patients to an acupuncturist.

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