Below are two patient cases detailing the treatment of side effects from chemotherapy and musculo-skeletal injuries. The intention of sharing these cases is to increase awareness within the local community about the benefits of acupuncture.
Patient #1: Female, Age 48, homemaker
Chief complaint: Chemotherapy side effects
Complaints: The patient was experiencing side effects from chemotherapy. Her treatments were scheduled every three weeks for a total of six sessions. In addition to this treatment, she also had a left breast mastectomy. The side effects of chemotherapy were numbness in the hands and feet, aching throughout the body, twitching of the lower eyelids, fatigue, tension headaches, discoloration of skin on the limbs, and difficulty sleeping. Unrelated to chemotherapy and possibly from anxiety, the patient also experienced symptoms of heart palpitation and a fast resting heart rate over 100 beats per minute occurring several times a day, necessitating an electronic monitor placed on her chest for data collection. In relation to this condition, the patient experienced a sensation of arterial throbbing in the head and a sound of arterial pulsing in the ears.
Treatment Process: The patient began acupuncture treatments twice a week after her second chemotherapy. From the first visit, the patient immediately noticed significant improvement of the symptoms and an increased sense of well-being. By the fourth visit, most of the symptoms were gone until the next chemotherapy. Although each succeeding chemotherapy brought on pain and discomfort for several days, acupuncture quickly eliminated significant portions of the side effects. Some symptoms such as palpitations and fast heart rate were practically gone after the initial 6 visits. She has had 23 visits so far with one more chemotherapy left.
Discussion: Acupuncture has consistently exhibited its reliability to provide significant improvement with each visit. Not only was it successful in reducing aches and pains, it also promoted healing of the body while the chemotherapy targeted the fighting of cancer. Her stabilization of both red and white blood cell count at or slightly below the normal range objectively reflected the protection of her body globally as a result of acupuncture. Finally, the patient’s anxiety reduced dramatically, allowing her to have better sleep and a higher quality of life.
Patient #2: Female, Age 49 physical education school teacher
Chief complaint: Multiple musculo-skeletal injuries
Complaints: Neck pain 8/10 persistent for 6 months with radiating pain down right arm due to a herniated disc in the neck impinging on a nerve. Minimal relief with cortisone shot. Diagnosed with mild osteoarthritis in the right knee and had surgical meniscus repair 3 years ago with current knee pain at 7/10. Plantar fasciitis in both feet for at least 10 years, especially on the right medial foot. Right big toe swelling. Night sweats due to pre-menopause 3-5 evenings a week since 9 months ago. Cold/flu symptoms. Fracture of left ankle. Broken ankle and pinky due to a fall. Falling from bicycle, injuring hip and sacro-iliac joint.
Treatment Process: The patient was treated for various problems over a 9 year period, totaling 144 acupuncture visits. She came to the clinic twice a week for acupuncture treatments for the first 18 visits, which had eliminated her initial complaints of neck pain with radiation and plantar fasciitis. The right knee pain was much better and she was able to compete in a 10 kilometer run without significant pain afterwards. Another right knee surgery and proper rest had allowed her to be continually active using minimal knee impact sports such as bicycling and swimming. Hot flashes and big toe swelling resolved incrementally over a two year period. With the continuation of bi-weekly acupuncture visits, her aches and pains were minimal except when she had new injuries. When she was injured, her visits were at once or twice a week for several weeks. Such injuries were falling off a bicycle landing on her buttocks resulting in a large contusion, breaking of an ankle due to a fall, tearing of ligaments and tendons in the other ankle due to another fall, pinky finger break, low back pain, hips pain, and cold/flu. Her improvement rate was at least twice as fast as expected.
Discussion: This is a long term patient who decided to utilize acupuncture as part of her medical regimen after seeing significant improvement of previous neck pain and menopausal symptoms. The body type acupuncture was effective in treating problems of a different nature at different periods. With acupuncture, her body only needed to be supported to enhance its job of healing itself. Over a 9 year period, her various musculo-skeletal injuries had recovered fast, allowing her to be athletically active.
Disclaimer: Acupuncture results may vary since each individual case is different.
David Lee, Ph.D. in Oriental Medicine
166 N. Moorpark Road, #201
Thousand Oaks, CA