This was a call from one of my monthly radio shows taking call in questions.

“I would like to ask the Acupuncture & Nutrition Clinic if they can help my husband. He is 67 years old and has a lot of hip pain. He is still very active and very much works 40 or 60 hours a week. The pain radiates down the side of his leg into the knee area. Do they think that they might be able to help that?”

Our response: “We treat a lot of hip, low back and sciatic type pain. Pain down the side of the legs does sound like a type of sciatica that’s coming from the low back, maybe the hip. We do treat a lot of sciatica at our clinic. The usual location of needles would be on the opposite shoulder. We would actually needle various joints of the shoulder because that mirror-images the hip and then down the middle of the upper arm to the elbow which would mirror the knee. Once the needles are in we would ask him to move in a way that normally would elicit pain. If it’s better, then we’ve done our job well. If not, we need to go back and reassess our diagnois of the channel problem. Sciatica down the side of the leg is actually a very treatable condition.”

We frequently tell patients to remember that acupuncture is like a therapy: chemotherapy or psychotherapy. The treatments build on each other until the body is able to maintain the “re-routed” circuitry. If someone has had a condition for 20 years, it’ going to take more than a few treatments to make it better. It’s good to be realistic in those expectations.

Even if you think about one month of treatment per year. Obvioiusly that’s a lot of treatments and its doubtful that many treatments would be necessary. But the take home message is about being patient and recognizing that Chinese medicine is a gentle form of medicine that nudges the body to work in a way that it used to know how to do. There is memory. Once you really promote healing in the area that’s hurting or diseased, the body will respond in the majority of cases.

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