first post/acupuncture for chronic pain?

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violadagamba
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2011
Total Posts : 25
   Posted 4/30/2011 5:43 PM (GMT -6)   
I am a 66 y.o. male.  I have had eleven major surgeries on my right knee, and a failed total knee replacement.  I have had debilitating chronic pain in the knee for the last four years.  I am with my 3rd pain management physician.  I have tried injections, tems, and of course opiates with little or no help.  I have been to four major University referral orthopedic groups and all the doctors say that no further surgery can help reduce my pain. my life is basically over. I can no longer drive, I am taking a total of 300mg a day of morphine and most of the time the pain is so bad I cannot leave my room.
I need a wheelchair just to get around my house.  I cannot plan social events because the pain keeps me from leaving the house most all of the time.  My day is spent watching the clock waiting to take the next pill.  I have been hospitalized with depression from the chronic pain several times.  Things were so bad this winter that I thought of going to Mexico and looking for a physician who would electively amputate my leg, as my doctor's here do not want to even consider that option.  I wish they could "feel my pain."
I am turning to Traditional Chinese Medicine on Monday and have an appointment with a Doctor of Chinese Medicine who does acupuncture.  He seems quite honest on the phone and said while there are no guarantees he feels he can help me.  The first appointment will be two full hours, where he will take a full history and then and only then proceed with treatment.  I have been told by him that I should know in about three weeks of twice wekly sessions if I will get help from it, but it could work sooner.
I have done a lot of research on acupuncture, especially if done by a Chinese trained physician.  This man trained in China and has been in practice in the Washington D.C. area where I live for the past eight years.  However first hand experience is better than research, and I would like to know if anyone has had experience with it for chronic pain?

Jim1969
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 2042
   Posted 4/30/2011 7:11 PM (GMT -6)   
Unfortunately I do not have any experience with acupuncture at all. I do however have some experience with acupressure for pain relief, although is was for acute rather than chronic pain. I bring this up because the two are similar in how they work by "disrupting" the flow of pain from its source to the brain as well as helping the body to release and use its own pain killers. When done by someone who knew what they were doing I had significant reductions in pain levels. Once again, when I had this done it was for acute pain caused by relatively minor but very painful injuries.

With that said I firmly believe that trying acupuncture is worth a shot. While many western doctors look upon it as one step above voodoo there is actually some sound scientific principles behind it.

suesueky
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2011
Total Posts : 87
   Posted 4/30/2011 9:39 PM (GMT -6)   
Hiya Violadagamba

I want to welcome you to the site and also pass on a ((((((hug)))))) which I am sure you need right now. I have had acupuncture for my back pain and sciatica it helped me for about 20 minutes after I had it done, it is very relaxing at the time. It did not hurt me when I had it done. I went because a friend of mine ask me to go, I will give anything a go if I think it is going to help my pain. I had 10 sessions but found that in the end I wasnt getting anything from it. My friend swears by it and it has helped her out so much with her shoulder pain. So I would say give it go, it may give you relief and even help.
Suesueky

Disc degenerative disease, L3/4 board disc bulge, L4/5 board disc bulge with significant nerve root compression on right L5 nerve root and also DDD at L5/S1. I also have an enlarged uterus with fibroids and have been a sufferer of psoriasis now for about 8 years.

straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16779
   Posted 5/1/2011 5:04 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Viloadagamba and welcome to Healing Well's chronic pain forum. Although, I am sorry that you have to be here, I am very glad that you have found this forum. It is amazing how chronic pain can just take over every aspect of our lives if we are not careful. One of the very worst feelings is the feeling alone. At least to me, that was a big thing as I was once a very active outgoing person who suddenly found herself making every excuse in the world as to why I could not go here or there and then eventually people stopped calling because they figured they would be told no and they were tired of being told no. Granted there were times I could have gone some where but I was also use to being alone. At least by coming here you will find that you are not alone after all.

You asked about acupuncture and yes, I have had the traditional Chinese method done. I had been involved in a car accident and was hit from the rear while sitting at a red light. This happened on my way to work one morning. I thought I was ok until later in the morning I got a pretty bad head ache. By 5:00pm I had one stiff painful neck. I was seen by an orthopedic and went thru PT for three months. Nothing helped including the PT. PT felt good while I was laying there on the table but an hour later I was right back where I started from. My sister had convinced me to see a dr that she was treating with for the similar type of pain. She had been involved in two really bad accidents an she had significant injuries to her neck and was able to prolong neck surgery for many years because of doing acupuncture.This dr had studied the traditional Chinese method too. After 9 treatments my pain was totally resolved. But keep in mind, we are talking about a whiplash type of injury mostly muscular type pain. He also said I should be able to tell if it was getting better after the 3rd treatment. He said that the pain would move around and it really did and that meant it was working.

I know of several people that have done the traditional acupuncture for various reasons and it has been successful for them. I certainly think its something worth trying. It is not a painful procedure either. The needles they use are so tiny and thin there is really no pain when they are inserted. you are hearing this from someone that is terrified of needles too. To me the worst part was after all of the needles were removed the nurse would use alcohol swabs and wipe where a needle had been and there would be a little stinging and thats it.

Anyway, that was my experience with acupuncture. I also wanted to pop on and tell you welcome aboard. Please keep posting and let us know how you are doing. Take care.
Moderator Chronic Pain Forum

farbeyonddriven1608
New Member


Date Joined May 2011
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 5/1/2011 6:32 AM (GMT -6)   
Hello violadagamba, My grandfather got great results from accupuncture. My grandpa was very "old school" He never once took any type of drug while getting dental work done. Someone recomended AP to him and he went along with it and swore by it for his remaining days. I live with severe chronic pain and have been down every avenue and alley and basically have run out of options. My primary doctor is just now recomending acupuncture (which Im not quite sure why she saved this for the last resort?) But anyways come to find out she swears by it! and refered me to APist she goes to. My insurance obviously does not cover this and I have been out of work for a better part of 2 years now. So basically the little money my wife and I do have goes to keep diapers on our 2 children and food in their tummys ( I know we spoil them) But I am truly excited to try this myself. Anything that keeps the oxycontin in the bottle and not in my stomach is much anticipated. Anyways best of luck to you! p.s. stay out of Mexico lol!

violadagamba
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2011
Total Posts : 25
   Posted 5/1/2011 1:01 PM (GMT -6)   
I want to thank everyone for your concern and response.  Today is a real bad day.  It is only 1:30 p.m. and I have already had 120mg of morphine since 8 a.m., and am just starting to get the pain from a 10 down to maybe an 8.  I know what the person means who says they want to keep the meds in the botlle.  While I know I am opiate dependent after this many years on morphine what I want most is to be able to see my pain dorctor and tell her to start weaning me off the morphine.  I have no idea if I will ever reach that goal as the top orthopedic surgeons I have seen do not offer me much chance of improvment through revision or reconstructive surgery.  I am less than a day out from the first acupuncture treatment and I am putting a great deal of hope in it.  The traditional doctor I will be seeing seems to be quite honest so all I can do is wait for my daughter to pick me up and drive me to the office to see him.
As far as (Mexico goes) there is actually a fine gentleman who is quite a runner who has a web site for those who have had or whom are contemplating "elective amputation" of a limb due to uncontrolled chronic pain.
 
This man has appeared on television and is very supportive to those who have no other options left.  He had his foot amputated and still runs major marathons with the aid of new prosthetics.
 
I have been corresponding with him for several months now, and although I am not psychologically ready to have my right leg amputated, I can understand that if I learned that there was virtually no chance of pain rel;ief and I had to live the rest of my life the way i do now, that I might seek it as an option.
 
I have seen so many brave solldiers get around with excellent mobility after they have lost legs in the war.  While I am far from 20 years old, and no where near in the physical condition they are in, I would assume with the new prosthetics that are now available, I would be in better shape than I am now.
Richard has actually given me the names of several well thought of orthopedic surgeons in the Baltimore / Washington area who are open to discussing this option with chronic pain patients with no other option.
From a quality of life position if I now need to use a wheelchair of scooter to get even from room to room after the eleven surgeries I have had on my knee, and am consistantly sleepy from the level of opiates I need to get even some degree of pain relief, I wonder if over all I would be better off without the leg.  Even if I still needed the power chair I could eventually get off the opiates and get my life back.  As far as the issue of phantom pain, I understand from the literature that there are some excellent techniques for dealing with that in amputees.
Of course the number of doctors who would even consider this option as a form of pain relief in an otherwise functional limb are few, apparently there are some who understand just how chronic pain can take away any chance for a normal ife and are willing to discuss this option openly with patients and their famalies.
While I have not yet come to terms with that option I may yet have to look at myself and ask if I am ready to continue my life in one room of my home, counting the hours until I take my next pill and not being able to do very much but deal with the pain.
I just saw on this site that a woman passed away after some "minor knee surgery."
 
I don't want to get started with that as I now see how so many in the orthopedic community have used the idea of knee replacement surgery and arthroscopy as a cure all for any and all knee pain.. Hospitals are paying doctors to run dinner seminars at Hotels to talk to people about the benefits of joint and joint replacement surgeries, and hospitals all over the country are opening up so called joint replacement centers.  These surgeries are becomming cash cows for the orthopedic communities, the makers of the prosthetics and hospitals who know they can get a flow of medicare dollars for these surgeries.
What they do not tell you of course is that while some people do get relief from these procedures they are major surgeries and far more people than the doctors will admit are far worse off after knee and hip replacement surgery than before, and there are far too many complications needing additional surgeries.
At least in my case after eleven knee surgeries and a knee replacement gone bad most of the top doctors in the teaching hospitals that do not need the cases to make their living have told me that I have little to gain and much to loose with another attempt at surgery.
I guess where I am now is with my back to the wall with the hope that acupuncture will provide some relief, and if not I will really need to think about what is best for the time I have left,  life with my leg that will be full of pain or the chance at a fresh start without the leg, a number of months of physical therapy learning to walk with a prosthetic leg and the chance of some freedom from pain.
Will keep you posted and if anyone has any thoughts on this matter I would appreaciate hearing from you below.

solar powered
Veteran Member


Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 538
   Posted 5/1/2011 4:57 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello. I have had acupuncture in the past by a trained MD so my insurance covered it. Of course my issues are pretty tame in comparison to yours. I have fibromyalgia, chronic muscle imbalances and other orthopedic issues such as sloppy shoulder, torn PCL, etc. For me the acupuncture wasn't a cure all but helpful to a point. It does sound like you are kind of at the end of the line at least in your thought process if you are considering amputation. That's pretty drastic to say the least but I've had pain bad enough myself to wish for something like that.

Since it won't hurt you, you've got nothing to lose at this point so I would give that therapy a fair try. Also there are a ton of of other therapies out there that may be of help to you. I would assume with that many surgeries that some of your pain is due to scar tissue build-up and decreased range of motion. Myself I have been working on those issues with an orthopedic chiropractor who is trained in therapies known as active release therapy (ART) and Graston Therapy and they have helped me a great deal even with my injuries being chronic. Again they aren't a cure-all but a tool in the whole realm of possible things that you can do to improve your situation. You can google those therapies to read more about them. They might be something else to try. There are lots of other manual therapies available out there but you have to search. Please don't give up or give in until you really have tried everything possible.

Best of luck to you on your acupuncture. Please let us know how it goes. Lee
Hope and attitude are everything. Never, never, ever give up.

violadagamba
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2011
Total Posts : 25
   Posted 5/1/2011 6:38 PM (GMT -6)   
Solarpowered,
Actually I have tried many options in western medicine, including epidurals, faucet injections, fentenol patches, creams and everything but snake oil.
It is rather strange since I have excellent range of motion in the leg, and no problems with infection now, or a loose prothesis. As far as the pain physicians say, they all seem to feel that I have massive nerve damage from one or more of the surgeries and that once the nerves become sensative they continue to transmit pain on an ongoing basis. There is only one option I have not yet tried, and that is a rather new procedure called knee derevation surgery. It is a surgery performed by plastic surgeons, and is considered perpharial nerve surgery, where the surgeon actually removes the perpharial nerves from the knee area.
There are only a hand full of doctors who do it and almost all do NOT accept any insurance. The cost up front, cash is about $25,000 which to me is worth it if it works. That is the key, if. Since it is so new there are not any long term trials on it yet. I have found ONE doctor at Harvard Med School who does the surgery and accepts insurance, but now he has a wait list of six months. I am on his list and should be able to fly up to see him sometine in late September of October. There are actually a number of physicians overseas who do the procedure, since it has only recently been approved by the FDA as standard treatment in the U.S. I have spoken with one company that arranges overseas surgeries and they have two plastic surgeons in India, which has a pretty advanced medical community, who perform the surgery and have done so for several years. However the idea of flying around the world to see a doctor I do not know, and cannot follow up with is really not a very good idea to me.
I intend to hold off on any decision regarding amputation until I at lease consult with the doctor at Harvard, once he sees you, I was told by his office there is still a four to six month wait for the surgery. The good part is that it is actually out patient surgery and you leave the Hospital walking on the leg as soon as the surgery is completed. I am a little concerned since the few doctors who do it have really big high class web sites and each one has really strong advertising. The man who pioneered the surgery advertises he has offices in Beverly Hills, Palm Beach and even in the United Arab Emerits, this is the guy who asks $25,000 before he will even make an appointment, I may have been born at night, but not last night, thank you???
 
 
   (I took the liberty of deleting your extra reply, as it was redundant. Please allow a little time for the reply to show up, once you click submit) Thanks! SE wink

Post Edited By Moderator (Screaming Eagle) : 5/2/2011 8:21:00 AM (GMT-6)


solar powered
Veteran Member


Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 538
   Posted 5/2/2011 9:06 AM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for explaining more about the nature of your knee pain. Sorry if I missed that in your other post. I am glad to hear that you have tried different therapies. I get kind of frustrated with people sometimes when they are complaining about their pain when they have left soooo many possibilities unexplored. I guess I believe you need to keep trying until...

I read up a bit on that denervation surgery. Interesting. If your pain is nerve related that sounds like a viable option for you. That thing about paying for it though sounds a bit tricky and questionable. The idea of going overseas for surgery gives me the creeps.

Please do consult with the Harvard dr before cutting off your leg. Even though I can see your point about it, it is just so extreme and you can't take it back if it turns out to be the wrong decision. I'm also concerned for you that even with a good artificial leg that it will come with/cause a whole new set of issues because you will be changing the bio-mechanics of your body. I know first hand what trouble that can cause and don't want that to happen to you.

Please take care and keep us posted. Oh if you get the chance can you explain how you hurt your knee originally and what surgeries other than the replacement was done? Thanks much. Lee
Hope and attitude are everything. Never, never, ever give up.

straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16779
   Posted 5/2/2011 4:24 PM (GMT -6)   
Well, I have seen first hand phantom pain and what it was like for a young man. He worked in the oil fields and sustained a crush type injury to his arm, resulting in part of his arm being amputated. He suffered greatly, as nerve pain as you know really is not helped all that much by pain medication unless it is in large amounts. Then its a matter of finding a dr that will rx it in such a dose. I would really hate to see someone end up like he did. On the flip side I think I can see some of where you are at in your thinking. You feel you have reached the end of line and no place else to go.

I would like to ask you if anyone has ever talked about an intrathecal pain pump for you? They do a trial on a patient to see if they get any relief. If you would, please go to Medtronic.com and read up about their pain pumps. There are different ones out there, but they seem to have the best site with the most information of any of the pump makers. I understand and we all do about the medication thing, but you know quality of life issues play such a huge role for many of us. I have a pain pump and my life is much better than it was taking oral medication. I don't sit and watch the clock like I did before. I am on less medication with the pump than what I was taking orally, thats the beauty of the pump.

I can see that you have really done a lot research into this and understand everything involved. I am with you on the traveling to India, for a surgery such as that, no thanks. With waiting lists like you have spoken of that tells me there are a lot people out there suffering.

Please keep us posted on how you are coming along. I really would not expect anything on my first treatment, it usually takes 3 to be able to tell any difference. I will be interested in seeing how your first appt goes. Take care.
Moderator Chronic Pain Forum

violadagamba
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2011
Total Posts : 25
   Posted 5/2/2011 6:28 PM (GMT -6)   
STRAYDOG AND SOLARPOWERED
THANK YOU BOTH FOR GIVING ME SOME INPUT.  FIRST, AS FAR AS THE PUMP IS CONCERNED, ONE PAIN PHYSICIAN i WAS SEEING DID SUGGEST IT, HOWEVER HIS PARTNER IN THE SAME PRACTICE TOLD ME HE DID NOT AGREE AND FELT IT WOULD NOT BE HELPFUL WITH MY TYPE OF PAIN.  IT IS NOT OFTEN WHEN YOU SEE TWO PARTNERS IN A MED PRACTICE DISAGREE ON A TREATMENT PLAN.  THERE IS ALSO ANOTHER ISSUE.  WHEN IT WAS SUGGESTED about FIVE YEARS AGO TO ME, I ACTUALLY HELD THE PART OF THE SYSTEM THAT GOES IN YOUR LOWER ABDOMEN.  IT WAS THE SIZE OF A HOCKEY PUCK.  I WAS TOLD IT WOULD BE PUT IN MY LOWER STOMACH about THE AREA OF THE BODY THAT FOLDS WHEN YOU SIT, OR POSSIBLY THE LOWER BACK.
 
I WAS AND STILL AM A PROFESSIONAL CELLIST AND THE IDEA OF SITTING WITH MY LEGS PROPERLY POSITIONED TO HOLD A CELLO WITH A HOCKEY PUCK SIZED PUMP IN MY STOMACH SEEMED IMPOSSIBLE.  I HAD THE SAME CONCERNS about THE LOWER BACK.  IN FACT WHEN I ASKED THE DOCTOR WHO SUGGESTED IT about HOW I WOULD DEAL WITH IT WHEN PLAYING HIS HONEST ANSWER WAS, IN YOUR TYPE OF WORK THAT COULD BE A PROBLEM.  I DROPPED IT AT THAT POINT, BUT SINCE MEDICAL DEVICES SEEM TO GET SMALLER AND SMALLER I MAY LOOK INTO THE PRESENT SIZE OF THE SYSTEM.
 
I DID JUST RETURN FROM MY FIRST ACUPUNCTURE TREATMENT, AND SO FAR SO GOOD.  THE PAIN HAS EASED QUITE A BIT, I AM ACTUALLY QUITE HAPPY.  THE DOCTOR OF CHINESE MEDICINE I SAW, A MAN BY THE NAME OF WHANG SAID I SHOULD COME IN TWICE A WEEK FOR THE FIRST THREE WEEKS THAN ONCE A WEEK FOR THREE WEEKS AND THEN REEVALUATE.
HE DID SAY THAT AT THE BEGINNING OF TREATMENT THE RELIEF FELT SHORTLY AFTER THE TREATMENT USUALLY ONLY LASTS A FEW DAYS, BUT AFTER A WHILE IT HOLD LONGER.
I AM A BIT TIRED NOW SO I WILL FOLLOW UP LATER WITH MORE, BUT I WANTED TO RESPOND TO BOTH OF YOU

straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16779
   Posted 5/3/2011 1:17 PM (GMT -6)   
Viola my pump is located up above the beltline in my stomach on the side,. They no longer install them at the waist line because people would put on tight pants and cause the pump to flip. This may tell you about the location and I would not have put in my back, yes, they probably do have some smaller ones on the market by now. They do not protrude out as much as you think either. Mine has been in since 2005. I do know they use the pump for nerve pain, but you can also visit Medtronic's website they have conditions listed that a pump will help.

Woohoo on being able to tell some difference after a treatment, awesome.

I must ask that you not to type in all caps, as it is hard to read and is considered shouting, which I know you are not doing lol.

Keep us posted.
Moderator Chronic Pain Forum

violadagamba
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2011
Total Posts : 25
   Posted 5/3/2011 4:11 PM (GMT -6)   
Straydog, No problem on the caps, thanks. I just learned that the one pain doctor who suggested the pump is opening up a branch office in the town I live in. I live in a small town in the Northern Shenandoah Valley about 65 miles from Washington D.C.

This practice had their office about 30 mies from me. Right now I have to use my daughter to drive me about 50 miles to my current pain doctor. I think I will call my old physicians office and make an appointment to see him and revisit the issue of the pump. As I said when I was a patient in his practice there were other doctors who totally disagreed with the idea of a pump for my pain, and frankly when I saw the size of it I backled off anyway. It might very well be worth having another look at.
Thanks a lot for the information, I thought that with the rapid advances we are seeing in the medical arean the size of the pain pump may have decreased greatly by now. While acupuncture seems to have helped I have no idea how long the effects will last, and if I had a new option that would be great. I may have some specific questions once I speak with the doctor again so I hope you do not mind if I follow up on this option a little later.
Thank you violadagamba
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