Living Pain Free
How acupuncture defeated my back pain and gave me back my life
There was a time in my life when I could sit at my easel and paint for hours on end. I would hunch over the canvas, carefully painting into the tightest corners, so that when I stepped away, the painting would create a Monet feel, as the objects came together to create a cohesive scene. Painting kept me present, where it seemed nothing could interfere with my process—until years later, when pain in my lower back became too much too bear. I had to give up painting and work only on my graduate studies.
Then pain and life circumstances yielded a depression that was partially relieved by running 5 to 6 miles a day. I had never been so lean, so strong― and so unhappy all at once.
One day during a run my back began to ache, then sting and then knife, and I found myself halfway around a lake with my left leg limp and my father rescuing me with his pick-up.
I saw a chiropractor whose treatment seemed to intensify the pain, so I tried physical therapy, but that didn’t help me walk without a limp. The pain was so excruciating, I was constantly applying icepacks. These packs pressed on the nerves and left huge welts, which were ice burns.
At age 30, I could find no one in Waynesville, North Carolina, who wanted to operate on me. Eventually, I found an orthopedist in Asheville who performed a laminectomy to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. Unfortunately, I continued to have pain, and after a year, went back for a revision laminectomy. But then the scar tissue grew and the nerves were pinching all over again.
This is when I met Nate Novgrod, acupuncturist with Waynesville Wellness in North Carolina. He asked me my longterm goals regarding treatment; I told him that I wanted to run again. He chuckled slightly and said that he couldn’t promise that, so I said I wanted to sit again at my easel and paint. He thought this was a good goal, and I began treatment two times a week for three months, noticing major improvement. After a year of acupuncture every other week, I began to jog again. After another year of acupuncture just once a month, I could again sit long hours in front of my easel.
The vision of needles sticking out of someone’s back may sideline one’s plans to seek treatment, but the reality is they are not swords or daggers, but rather, tiny round-tip needles as fine as a hair. How does something so small fire up nerves and create new paths for healing? According to Novgrod, “Acupuncture has many little mechanisms of action that all work together for a global effect: It increases the circulation to the local tissue; it releases anti-inflammatory chemical signals in a local area; it can actually change the way the
WHEN LIVING WITH CHRONIC PAIN, ESPECIALLY IN THE BACK, YOU BEGIN TO BELIEVE THAT THIS IS IT.