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Acupuncture Case Story - Shoulder Pain, unable to move arm

If you are tormented by troublesome pain and your family doctor is telling you to wait a long time to get treatment or a long time to recover, or the only thing they can do is to prescribe you more painkillers, dear friend, you must not give up, there must be a better way, and acupuncture is one of them. I forget who said that it's not the doctor who can really help you, it's your own thoughts, determination and your own body, they are where the magic is.

This is an interesting and very impressive case that was treated by me and one of my classmates at the acupuncture school. I decided to write it down in story form.

This woman came in with a frown on her face, but was very kind. As is the usual practice, I started with a series of TCM diagnoses, including questioning, tongue diagnosis, and pulse diagnosis.

She was 48 years old, slightly overweight, and appeared to be lacking physical exercise. She is a very dedicated social worker with long office hours, and she has a complex job that often involves bringing unfinished work home and sometimes working until after 1:00 in the middle of the night.

However, she found that her health has been going wrong lately. Especially in the past three months, her left arm hurts so much that she can't lift it up, which makes her feel very troubled, just like a one-armed person, her left arm can't do anything at all, she can't lift it up to comb her hair, she can't rest it on the other shoulder, she can't go out behind, she can't turn it, all she can do is just lift her arm out to a 30 degree angle from her body.

She said: I feel very painful, and it has been more than 3 months, but I have to wait another 6 weeks for hospital treatment. The doctor said my condition is not an emergency, so the waiting time is longer, and now I can't even sleep well, I don't dare to sleep on my left side at all, and if I sleep on my left side at night, I will be awakened by pain. This pressure pain exists all the time, especially in two places in the front and center of my shoulder, making it difficult for me to sit still.

I asked: What caused your shoulder pain?

She said: I lifted a heavy object once 3 months ago, and it started hurting after that, and it was getting more and more painful, which I never had before.

I said: Your shoulder pain area is located in the lung and large intestine meridians in the TCM meridians, do you have any respiratory diseases? For example, pollen allergy, asthma, etc.

She said: None of these ...... Oh! You asked me that, I remembered that I got the corona virus in February this year, when I was very sick for a long time. After that it was obvious that I felt much less fit than before. My workplace is on the 3rd floor, and it was easy to climb up the stairs, but now I have to take the elevator, and as soon as I climb the stairs for a while, I can't catch my breath.

Not only is it difficult to breathe, but now my appetite is not as good as it used to be. I don't know what I should eat every day, and I don't even like the chocolate I used to like.

I said, "It's the middle of May now, and you got Covid in February, which means your shoulder pain started after you got Covid and moved heavy things.

She said: That's true.

When I asked her about this, I understood the problem. Her tongue was dark in color, with a yellowish, greasy tongue coating. The pulse was slow, weak, deep, slippery and feels like a string meanwhile. Combining the above symptoms, the diagnosis was Qi stagnation, Blood stasis, Dampness obstruction, Lung Qi not descending, the root lies in the lack of Lung Qi and Spleen Qi after getting corona virus.

In Chinese medicine, the lung not only regulates breathing, but also has the role of expanding and descending "qi". This is the reason for her shallow breathing and shortness of breath. The digestive system also depends on the power of Qi, and the lack of power not only reduces appetite, but also leads to poor circulation of body fluids, so Qi and blood stagnate in her lung and large intestine meridians, causing pain. Lifting heavy objects was just a direct trigger, like the last straw that crushed the camel.

After discussing with my companion, we decided to address her current pain problem first, and afterwards to improve the underlying lung and digestive functions.

According to the TCM theory - Cross channel, I first used a 3 cun long needle to penetrate her right leg and asked the patient to move her shoulder. However, she felt severe pain at the acupuncture point and was afraid of the pain caused by moving her shoulder, so she was unwilling to continue to cooperate.

Then I pulled out the needle and found the painful reaction point in her right crotch, only instead of using the needle again, I massaged the reaction point with my finger instead of the needle, while my companion helped the patient to move her shoulder gently, even though I massaged the reaction point very gently, the patient kept complaining that it hurt too much.

But gradually, something magical happened, the shoulder could be raised to 90 degrees, and at the same time, the reaction point was not so painful. So I increased the massage pressure, and my companion also increased the amplitude of shoulder movement, and she screamed again: Ouch! It hurts! In less than two minutes, her shoulders could actually lift up and also stretch forward more. She couldn't help but get excited: Oh my God! Is this my own shoulder? I can't believe it! I don't feel any pain at all now!

After a short break, my partner and I switched roles, and this time I started to rotate her shoulder to a place where she started to scream again: Ouch! It hurts! This time the pain point behind the shoulder, my companion also correspondingly found the reaction point on the leg, continue to massage, I continue to rotate the shoulder, so after about 5 minutes, we let her try to move the shoulder by herself.

She acted scared at first, she really didn't have the confidence to move her shoulder by herself, the pain she had for the previous 3 months was too much for her, she hesitated to try. So, I had to hold her arm with both hands and let her try again. She started to do the upward motion very slowly and my hands followed, except I didn't touch her at all, I just pretended to hold it. She was as excited as a child: Was I moving on my own? Did you really not help me? I said no, and with that I took my hands completely away. She actually unconsciously put her hand over her mouth to express her surprise, knowing that this action was as difficult for her as picking stars from the sky just over half an hour ago. Then she tried to put her left hand on her right shoulder, and she did it with ease.

The treatment was over. Even I didn't expect the results to be so fast and amazing. I only used one needle and one thumb for the whole process. My companion and I couldn't help but high-fived and celebrated, happy for this patient and for her wise decision to try acupuncture.

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