Male, aged 34. This patient initially sought treatment for a pain in his neck and shoulder, and a frequent lumbar pain. He also had a long history of hay fever, starting in childhood, and had other clear signs of poor kidney function (shortness of breath when running up stairs, wheezing when exercising, poor hearing in one ear, feeling hot at night). He ran his own business and was a sporty person.
After the initial treatments, which cleared all his significant symptoms, he came for routine maintenance treatments every month or two, for a period of around six years.
About two years after he started treatments with me, he reported feeling a “hernia” type pain, which had been developing for a few weeks. He thought it started due to an injury while canoeing. The pain was on the right of his abdomen, at the acupoint Stomach-26, and the pain radiated down the inside of his leg, on the liver channel.
Apart from acupoints for his general treatment, I also needled Stomach-26.
Four weeks later he returned for another routine maintenance treatment. The hernia pain was still a problem. When getting out of bed in the morning, he felt a stabbing pain; and when canoeing, he felt a shooting pain.
Apart from general constitution acupoints, I also needled ashi points on his right side, from Stomach-26 downwards, and also three acupoints on the liver channel, Liver-12 to Liver-10.
Three weeks later he returned. The hernia pain was completely clear for a few days after the last treatment. The following week he went canoeing, and experienced no pain, but over the following few days, the pain returned and got worse; and he described himself as being in agony. He consulted his doctor, who said she could feel a tear in the muscle, so she referred him to a specialist at the hospital for surgery. But the initial consultation with the surgeon was three to four weeks away. He then had another canoeing session and there was no hernia pain during the session, but he still felt the pain every morning when getting out of bed. He asked if I could focus on treating the hernia, since, even if there was only a chance I could heal it before he saw the surgeon, then he could avoid having surgery.
I needled the same acupoints as in the previous treatment, only this time I added moxa as well.
One week later he returned. The day after the last treatment the hernia pain was worse, and was now worse along the whole line, from around Stomach-26 down to Liver-10. He had avoided canoeing this week.
I repeated the previous treatment.
Six days later he returned. This time, the pain was not worse after the previous treatment; and he now felt a dull ache around Liver-10 to Liver-11, and a stabbing pain at Stomach-26. Again, he had avoided canoeing.
I needled ashi points again, but the locations had moved slightly. I needled four acupoints near to Stomach-26, and two acupoints about two cun below Liver-10.
Three weeks later he returned. Since the last treatment, he did one whole day of canoeing, and afterwards a bruise developed near to Stomach-26 which was the size of a tennis ball and he felt sick and bloated. He attended his appointment at the hospital, and the surgeon performed an ultrasound scan. The surgeon reported that at the exact location where the hernia was, there was a slight bulge in the muscle, as if a previous injury had healed. But otherwise, there was no problem and he was discharged. Since then, the patient had not experienced the hernia pain, though there was a slight ache in that same location.
In this session, I only treated him constitutionally and avoided using any of the acupoints related to the previous hernia treatments.
Three weeks later he returned for a routine maintenance treatment. The hernia was now completely clear and remained so for the following few years that I treated him.
The findings of the patient’s doctor and also the surgeon provided compelling evidence that the acupuncture had healed this patient’s hernia. However, even more compelling evidence would have been provided if an ultrasound scan had been performed before my treatments, as well as after, since there was only the experience of the patient’s family doctor to confirm that a hernia was definitely present before my treatments. The patient confirmed he had never experienced a hernia before in that location and had certainly never had surgery there. But I suspect that even if an ultrasound scan had been performed before my treatments, sceptics would still choose to disbelieve the treatment outcome, simply claiming that the hernia must have got better by itself. And to be fair to the sceptics, when there is nothing in their own knowledge that could possibly account for the treatment outcome, what other choices would be open to them?
21 July 2016
Further details of the author's acupuncture research project.