Acupuncture: A Public Service Announcement

Today's blog post is for anyone in pain, especially the pregnant women out there... which seems to be approximately 43.6% of the Richmond wedding industry right now. Which is kind of hilarious and amazing. But anyway. If you read my second trimester post, you know that my back has been my biggest struggle lately. So, almost as soon as I wrote that post, I went on the war path to treat myself.

I've never understood when people have something wrong with them and they just endure it. And honestly they usually endure it while complaining. I can't do that. I have to explore every possible option to find a solution. So, within the span of a week I visited my chiropractor, massage therapist, and an acupuncturist. I also did some yoga practice on my own. And, as you probably already know, the treatment that amazed me the most was acupuncture.

I had never tried acupuncture before. I didn't really know anything about it. But just like when my orthopedist told me at 20 that I'd just have to accept my back and neck pain for the rest of my life because I was getting older now, I couldn't do nothing when my typical go to remedies were ineffective. I mean, guys, my chiropractor did not help this kind of back pain! I couldn't believe it because it's helped me a lot in the past. But this kind of pain was something different. So I tried massage... from two different massage therapists (one who did a lot of prenatal massage and one who was still learning). Both felt nice at the time, but were so gentle that there wasn't a lot of longterm benefit to it.

Luckily, over Christmas I had scored a Groupon for three acupuncture treatments for next to nothing. 

When I arrived, the doctor had me fill out a form describing all my ailments. Sciatic pain and the general area around my SI joint were my big priorities, but I also wrote about my upper and middle back and shoulder pain. He took my pulse. He examined my tongue(?) And he went to work. He's Chinese and English is not his first language, so there's very little small talk (which is fine by me! haha). He just whips out his needles and tells me where to stand/sit/lay, periodically checking in to make sure I'm okay. 

Honestly, I'd always heard that acupuncture was painless. The needles are so thin you don't even feel them. Well, that has not been my experience! Haha let's be real, for me, it hurts! Not every needle, not in every place, but I can almost always feel it at the very least. And some hurt enough that I jerk. It's kind of like a shot that's painful, but not so painful that it feels wrong. I read online that with acupuncture, that can mean you have an intense "blockage" and that that's a very good spot to be treating. Honestly, I don't understand it at all and don't pretend to. But I know that even though it hurts while it's happening and sometimes I'm even sore the next day like I had an intense workout in that area, the day after THAT (or even when I'm still sore) I feel so good that I don't care. I can walk without limping and lay down and sit like a normal person. It's kind of incredible how dramatically it changed things.

So! This may sound like a mixed review. And I guess it is, especially if you have a needle phobia or anything like that. I can see why it wouldn't work for everyone. But to me, short term pain is worth it if it cures longterm pain. I've had five treatments so far and my acupuncturist thinks another three and I will be "treated." I know if I need to I can go back, but I like that it's not really a "maintenance" thing and I can just come as I feel I need it. I told my midwife how well it has been working for me and she was very encouraging, even suggesting that when I go into labor I might want to make a pit stop with the acupuncturist first to minimize any back pain I may experience. You hear that, Willow? You need to arrive Monday-Wednesday between 9 and 7 ;-)

The point of all this is you don't HAVE to suffer. Try new things. See if they work. If they don't, they don't. If they do, how AMAZING. There are a lot of issues that pregnant women especially just endure because it seems like it just comes with the territory and every medicine label is designed to freak you out, but I've read about acupuncture specifically helping with nausea, headaches, constipation, anxiety, and of course pain. The list seems endless, whether you're pregnant or not. It's worth consulting someone about at the very least and checking with your insurance to see if they will cover it. Mine don't unfortunately, but some do.

It's very simple. Don't suffer if you don't have to!