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How do I determine progress w/acupuncture treatments?
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How do I determine progress w/acupuncture treatments?

I have stenosis of L4 and L5. Also bulging discs at L4 and L5. I've had 2 acupuncture treatments so far and was given some capsules called "Back Support (HD), by Evergreen.  These capsules contain:  Bai Shao, Dang Gui, Du Zhong, Chuan Xiong, Yan Hit Suo, San Leng, E-Zhu, Ze Xie, Chuan Nio,  Y Vi Ren, Che Quart Z, Dan Shen, Gu Zhi, and Gen Cao, Shen Jin Cao.  All made in California, City of Industry.  Not FDA approved. Not intended to diagnose or prevent any disease.

Taking Acupuncture from an L.Ac. Master of Oriental Medicine, NCCAOM Nationally Certified in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology

I've been going for 3 weeks and do not notice any change in the pain I experience.  The other day the acupuncturist put needles in my hand in the "web" area around my thumb.  I lowered my arm and suddenly my arm went numb.  Is this normal?  The acupuncture treatments are very expensive ($95 each) and I have been told that I need to go twice each week.  The capsules are also very expensive and I am wondering if this is standard for the industry, or otherwise?  My insurance does not cover this treatment and I'm wondering what signs I should see or look for regarding progress?

Thank you so much for answering my question!


Tags: success, CollyDog, numb armspuncture
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1546479_tn?1295584212
The signs you should look for regarding progress are quite simple, and in your case, reduction of pain would be the most prominent.
However, it did not take overnight for you to develop your condition, and so it may take more than several treatments for you to see improvement.  And although every case is different and what works for some may not work for others, it is reasonable for you to get some sort of parameter from your practitioner on how long he or she thinks it will take for you to start seeing improvement and then take it from there if no results are obtained.
Many practitioners offer treatments on a sliding scale so you might want to check with yours to see if that is an option.  
As far as the herbal formula is concerned, the herbal company Evergreen is well-known and many of their formulations are adapted from traditional formulas by John Chen, who is both an acupuncturist and a pharmacist.  Herbs can take several months to work, so once again, if cost is an issue, ask your acupuncturist how long he expects you to take them.
If he wants you on them long-term, perhaps there is a less-expensive option.
Lastly, remember to be in open dialogue with your acupuncturist about all of these concerns, so you both feel satisfied with the treatments.
5 Comments
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657231_tn?1390151580
You do have the option to try someone else. I have been going to an acupuncture doctor for frozen shoulders and now back pain (I have stenosis but not as severe as yours). I get needles all over my back, my legs, my hands and since I have headaches, my head. I used the herbs in form of tea for a short time and if I purchased the tea, I got a break on something else.
My doc is an actual MD as well.
I feel relief right after the appointment and sometimes I fall asleep during the appointment.
I have never felt numb. I have been going for years - for different issues.
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875426_tn?1325532016
It wasn't terribly long ago I lived in California and it sounds like you are going to someone who is charging too much per session.  Also, I never had something go numb with a needle, though I have experienced where something was stinging or hurting too much, which isn't normal either and I would request rather quickly to take that needle out because something wasn't right.  Also, if you don't have much income, you can ask your acupuncturist if they will work with you on the price so you can continue to get treatments.  I had more than one willing to come down on their regular price.  And regular price at my last one wasn't as high as what you mentioned!  Twice a week is what's needed at first.  They say you didn't get like this overnight and it's takes time to try to get you to where you can go down to a maintenance schedule.  Twice a week is standard until that time.
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875426_tn?1325532016
Also, my last acupuncturist would look at my tongue-  important in Chinese medicine to gauge how you are doing.  Feeling your pulse in both wrists is another thing they check as a gauge of how you are doing, besides if you are feeling any sort of improvement.  I was treated amongst other things, for migraine headaches.

  I had a leg that felt tingly, like it was asleep at one place every time they stuck a needle a certain place.  I thought it was related to old knee injury and surgery but that acupuncturist felt it was circulation.  Many sessions later, it finally was no longer feeling like it was asleep!  But it takes maintenance to keep whatever improvement you may get, something I haven't done since moving to another state.  For some conditions and for some people, acupuncture just may not help enough.  You describe structural issues, stenosis and disc bulging.  You will need more than acupuncture alone as part of your therapy for your situation.  Are you in physical therapy as well?
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454186_tn?1388978568
About stenosis,It's still unclear if treatment versus no treatment makes any difference in the long run. This was true for medications, steroid injections, and manipulation. Some treatments such as physical therapy, corsets, and bracing seem to have good short-term effects and help manage pain over the long term. For many areas of study, there simply wasn't enough evidence to support or refute treatment choices.

Another research showed that the pain intensity, walking ability, and function were not different between patients with smaller versus larger spinal canals. Patients with the smallest canal diameters did report more pain-related disability. This has more to do with perception of pain than canal size. so anticipation of pain and not the actual pain felt is most predictive of function....(Clinical Journal of Pain. November/December 2007. Vol. 23. No. 9. Pp. 780-785)

That's possible answer why zak think that pain is come from inflammation not pressure.

Zak acupuncture aims to release adhesions and scarring, get rid of pathological factors and restore spinal balance. The mechanism for: ① spinal canal outside : a lot of deep needles by intensive use, can enter the ligaments around spine, yellow ligament, joint capsule, sacral spine muscle, transverse process of muscle etc, can be eliminated aseptic inflammation, relive muscle cramps and muscle tension, played the role of spinal decompression, restore balance of spine. Tenderness in the lower extremities of the sensitive points in the use of zak acupuncture, through a lot of stimulation of acupuncture, pain can be relived due to improve blood circulation. ② in the spinal cord ,stimulation of acupuncture: zak acupuncture can stimulate the nerve root area and adhesion area of soft tissue, can mobilize the body's self-regulatory function and immune function, the tissue injury can be repair , eliminate aseptic inflammation and eliminate symptoms. In addition, Use lot of zak acupuncture needles can stimulate soft tissue injury area, produce micro-mechanical heat, the heat promote the expansion of capillaries, improve microcirculation,relive pain.
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