Book Excerpt: Holistic Pain Relief
Author: Heather Tick
Publisher: New World Library; First edition (November 19, 2013)
For me, questions about pain and its treatment started during my first year of medical school at the University of Toronto. One day I noticed that I was experiencing a strange, nagging pain in my right shoulder. Like most of us who suddenly realize that Pain, the Intruder, has arrived on our doorstep, I fully expected it to go away on its own.
It was there the next
Over the course of three weeks, putting my arm behind me to pull on a sweater or coat became harder and harder, but I kept doing it to stretch the muscles and not lose the function. For the life of me, I couldn't remember what I'd done to cause this, so I continued to hope it would go away as silently as it had come.
I was still in my twenties with a pretty healthy diet and a regular exercise routine, so I told myself there was nothing to worry about. But then, a month passed, and I now had difficulty raising my arm above shoulder height. Finding a comfortable position to sleep proved trying. I was in pain when cooking meals that required extensive stirring or chopping. Carrying my schoolbooks hurt.
Finally, I accepted the inevitable: time to get some over-the-counter medications. Unfortunately (or fortunately, as I will explain), they disagreed with my stomach, so I had to stop them. The pain continued for another three months. Now, I had to limit my exercise to walking, because anything I did with my arms aggravated my painful shoulder. To compensate for the lack of sleep, I drank more coffee to stay away in classes. A cloud of unhappiness settled over me. All I could think about was my shoulder; it dominated every daily activity. All I wanted was to get my life back and to forget about that shoulder.
As luck would have it, I enrolled in an evening course on acupuncture, which was not part of the regular medical school curriculum. It was offered by a group of doctors who had established the Acupuncture Foundation of Canada to train physicians to use acupuncture techniques. I listened with fascination as one doctor lectured about theories of why it worked and why the Chinese had been using it for thousands of years. During another class, the lecturing physician described how painful sports injuries were treated using nothing more than a very thin needle containing no medication.
One evening, two doctors showed up to lecture. It was time to demonstrate what the instructor had been lecturing on for the past four weeks. They asked for volunteers to demonstrate on, and I quickly shot up my arm—my good arm. I walked up to the front of the room, wondering if little needles might be the answer to my problem. The doctors asked me questions about the location of my shoulder pain and had me move my head and arm this way and that. One of the doctors put some alcohol on a cotton ball and swabbed my skin in about six places around my shoulder. He then took a tiny needle and, with a quick tab, pushed it into the first freshly swabbed spot. I didn't feel anything by the pressure of the tab. He inserted five other needles with the same type of quick tap. Two of the needles stung slightly when inserted. I could feel the area around the needles grow warm, but they did not cause major discomfort. After ten minutes,
Don’t miss the opportunity to hear Heather Tick speak at the Integrative Healthcare Symposium Annual Conference February 23-25, 2017 in New York City. Click here for more information.