Acupuncture: Drug-Free Pain Treatment Option

By Kenneth Froehlich

If you have been suffering with a chronic medical condition for many years as I have personally experienced, then take heed.  There is a treatment option that has not been widely publicized or accepted in the U. S.  It has its roots in ancient China and has been practiced for centuries by trained individuals that learned their skills from learned masters.  Many people that have their family roots in the far east have been the beneficiary of this treatment option while growing up.  If you have traveled to the far east either on business or vacation then you may have possibly experienced this treatment option.   I hope to garner enough of your interest to consider this option in your quest to tame that dreaded beast that prevents you from playing a full round of golf, several match’s of tennis, horseback riding or even taking that hiking or whitewater rafting adventure through the Grand Canyon.  I am speaking of …. Acupuncture……

Lets look at a brief history of Acupuncture.  The most reliable data has come from the remains of a mummified individual discovered in the northern Alps in September 1991.  The mummified corpse has been dated to be more than 5,000 years old and was located in the Otztal Alps and the individual was deemed “Otzi”, the Iceman. Research has identified several carbon tattoos (possibly Acupuncture points) on his body including his spine. Additional analysis of his remains indicated he had several age degeneration conditions which mimic modern day bone deformities.

I was diagnosed with two bulging discs (L4-5, L5-S1) with mild to moderate stenosis at the nerve roots  several years ago.  The downside of this condition as you may already be aware of consisted of sciatic nerve pain along my left lower back, left buttock, left thigh, left calf with numbness and tingling at the forth and fifth digits (toes) of my left foot.  Pain and discomfort were my 24-hour constant companions and no matter how I tried to position my body, relief was not to be found.

Several treatment options that were offered by the allopathic medical community (western medicine) consisted of a surgical intervention, physical therapy, a lifestyle change, prescription medications or a combination thereof.  The treatment option that I reluctantly selected consisted of an epidural lumbar injection with dexamethasone (steroid-80mg) twice per year at an interval of six months. This option provided pain relief for approximately three years but as time progressed the period of being pain free diminished to approximately eight months. Due to the potential adverse side effects of extended usage of a long -acting glucocorticoid (steroid) I was placed on prescription pain, anti-inflammatory, and muscle relaxation medications for the remaining 4 months of the year.  This cocktail of prescription medications were not at all to my personal liking and very detrimental to my lifestyle and therefore I conducted my own research on the treatment of bulging discs and sciatica.

I became aware of a medical treatment option offered by several alternative medical practitioners while residing in Cottonwood, Az. The buzz words were known as “complimentary and alternative medicine” or CAM.  I was formally introduced to Acupuncture by the late Kathy Salisbury-Lawrence of Sedona.  After careful review of my lower back pain and related symptoms, a course of Acupuncture treatments were prescribed.  Following the initial 1.5  hour consult, which included a review of my extensive medical history, I received my first Acupuncture treatment which consisted of inserting several pre-sterilized disposable needles placed at designated Acupuncture points.  I was skeptical as to the level of pain that might be felt while the needles were being inserted… trust me… I felt no such pain.  The Acupuncture points are primarily located on meridians or channels on the head, hands, arms, legs, feet, abdomen, chest, and back.  The needles were removed after approximately 20-25 minutes and I was discharged from the clinic with a scheduled follow up appointment the very next week. Within several weeks my dreaded back, leg, and foot pain had been tamed in addition to Permanently shelving my cocktail of prescription medications.

I was so intrigued by the overall success of my Acupuncture treatment, I embarked on a pathway of studying Acupuncture at the Phoenix Institute of Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture in Phoenix, Az. and completed all classroom, internship, and residency requirements and graduated with a Masters Degree in Acupuncture.  I have recently completed a National board review program with the Arizona School of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (Han University of Traditional Medicine) in Tucson.  Upon completing several National board exams, I will receive my license to practice Acupuncture in the near future(2015-16) with the intent of opening an Oriental Health Clinic in Tucson.

In addition to treating disc/sciatica, Acupuncture has been recognized as a treatment option for many conditions to name just a few including allergies, angina, anorexia, anxiety, arthritis, bronchial congestion, carpal tunnel, colds/flu, constipation, depression, diverticulitis, emphysema, facial rejuvenation, fibromyalgia, gout, hemorrhoids, high blood pressure, injuries (sports, auto), insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, pain (back, hips, neck, jaw, joint), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), post surgery recovery, shingles, sinusitis, smoking cessation, stress incontinence, stroke, substance abuse, trigeminal neuralgia, ulcers, and a broad range of wellness issues for women….and many… many more…..

From a historical perspective as a U. S. army veteran, I completed my Basic Combat Training (BCT) at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri (“lost in the woods”) in 1969, Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma in 1969, and Intelligence Training at Ft. Huachuca, Az. in 1970. My overseas deployment was with the 101st Military Intelligence Company, 101st Airborne Division (Ambl), “Screaming Eagles”, to Military Region 1(I-Corps), specifically the A Shau Valley of Thua Thien Province in the Republic of Vietnam during 1970-71.

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