Category: Case Studies

Managing chronic pain with acupuncture – Kara’s story

Kara contacted me 10 days before she was about to start a new job, after 8 months of not working due to some serious and complex health conditions. Neurological pain is particularly difficult to treat and utterly debilitating.  In Kara’s case, her pain levels were pretty much off the charts and despite heavy medication, life was a real struggle. This inevitably affected her emotional health as well.

Kara has a chronic condition that needs regular management so that she can lead a fulfilling life; work, socialise, travel and have fun. So Kara comes every week, without fail, and is treated with acupuncture, TuiNa massage and cupping. Treatments significantly reduce her pain, keep her feeling balanced and support her general wellbeing. It is an investment in both time and money but she is committed to staying well. So much so that she hasn’t taken one day off work for illness.

 

Kara’s story:

I had a fully herniated disc (between C6 and C7) that caused paralysis of my right arm for 4 months when the disc crushed the nerve; this had to be surgically replaced with a disc implant.  6 weeks after recovering from that major spinal surgery, I developed an extremely rare form of shingles called Ramsay Hunt syndrome, which then took a turn for the worse when it spread to my spinal cord, entire central nervous system, and brain (this is typically fatal).  As my inner ear was affected by the shingles, in addition to excruciating pain I also experienced severe vertigo. In addition to this, I was offered my dream job, and was suffering from stress and anxiety about trying to start work when my body was going through so much and my pain levels were so high.

Choosing Peachy Acupuncture was the luckiest piece of fate I have ever been dealt by the Gods of Google; I rang Rita to see if there was any chance she could fit me in the following day for an emergency appointment, and was supremely impressed by her medical knowledge and very clear expertise during our conversation. Despite having multiple conditions that needed treatment, she knew so much about each and everything I brought up, it made it clear that she is exceptionally skilled.  I have seen other acupuncturists in the past, but have never felt as comfortable and confident in the person I was seeing as when I spoke with Rita.  And the first treatment did not disappoint – with wanting to sound like I am embellishing or exaggerating the effects of my treatment, it was genuinely life-changing.

I am genuinely at a loss as to how to express the life changing difference that Rita has made.  Before my first session with her, I was barely able to walk due to severe vertigo, and pain had crippled me.  I rarely left my bed, and was not able to work or socialise at all.  Tasks as simple as washing a dish or bathing were things that I truly struggled with every day due to my high pain levels, and I was sceptical that she would be able to help but thought ‘What have I got to lose?’  I had been to countless specialists on the NHS as well as privately, and had been on every form of medication to try and help with nerve pain, but nothing was working. I sat up at the end of the first session and my vertigo was gone; I have no idea how one session was able to do that, but I went home and genuinely cried tears of joy.

When cupping and tuina are combined with Rita’s acupuncture, I feel like I leave as a new person.  My pain is gone, my neck and back are free, I can move easily, and I cannot stress how much relief I feel from having my chronic, daily pain evaporate in just one short hour.  I have been put on every form of medication under the sun to try and help me with acute nerve pain and various medical complications, but this is the only thing that truly works.

Since then, I see Rita once a week for additional treatments and it is the only thing that keeps me going.  Despite starting a new job with so many physical ailments, she has made me feel a level of serene peace that I have never previously experienced; after a treatment, I feel connected to the world and like I can manage my life.  But the biggest improvement has been my pain levels.  Although I still experience pain, she has given me my life back.  I can leave my house, work, socialise, and actually enjoy being alive – I no longer live in blinding pain.

Rita’s clinic is such a wonderfully soothing place, I feel like I am visiting a spa run by a member of my family every time I stop by.

The best thing about Rita is that she does not believe in treating a condition, she treats the person.  She will meet with you, talk to you about your body, your life, your mental health, and then decide on the appropriate treatment(s) for you.  She really works against the idea that there is a ‘one-size-cures-all’ approach.  I appreciate this so much because it means that she truly listens to me and my body, and does what is in my best interest.

 

Kara Webster, Crouch End

Acupuncture for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – Tim’s story

Treating IBS is notoriously hard. Western medicine offers some respite but most of the people I treat with the condition, still suffer the symptoms. This is often a chronic condition although symptoms can flare up and recede after a few days.

*There is some evidence in clinical trials to show that acupuncture, electro acupuncture and moxibustion do have an effect on reducing symptoms. This is reflected in my own clinical experiences although some IBS can be intractable.

 

The most common symptoms of IBS are:

As is often the case, people have more than one pressing health concern that leads them to try acupuncture. Tim came to me with a couple of issues including limited shoulder range following a surgical procedure years before that also left significant scar tissue. He also wanted to relieve his IBS symptoms. He was somewhat nervous having never experienced acupuncture before but actually had no problems with it.

I used a combination of acupuncture, tuina massage and cupping for his shoulder plus guasha (skin scraping!) to break down the scar tissue.

 

Tim’s story

I wanted to try something different, acupuncture always interested me, but it seemed a little scary! I asked the Crouch End Appreciation Society Facebook page from suggestions in the local area, and they overwhelmingly recommended Rita.

Acupuncture, specifically for the IBS provided some good relief – a definite improvement, particularly if I keep up regular sessions.

On my arm which was an open fracture fix,  my range of movement improved and Rita has managed to flatten the keloid scaring dramatically – a much reduced scar line.

Rita’s great, very friendly and approachable – very modern environment, did fear it would be a bit too ‘new age’ for me – but it’s totally the opposite.

Rita’s a great practitioner and an active member of the local community, you see her around and she’s always smiling and wishing you well – would definitely recommend.

 

*http://www.atcm.co.uk/acupuncture-treatment-for-irritable-bowel-syndrome

 

 

Acupuncture for Women

Acupuncture is particularly well-suited to women’s healthcare. From fertility to endometriosis, emotional wellbeing to menopause, women require a holistic approach in managing key stages in their life.

Women’s lives have changed dramatically; we work longer hours, have children later, juggle home and work, and experience more stress than ever before. Our hormones play havoc with our mood and a greater percentage of women now experience anxiety. Being female brings its own challenges and medication isn’t a sustainable way to maintain our health or our peace of mind.

Women, generally, are more aware of their health, although men are slowly waking up to the fact that they need to take more care of themselves. Women are more likely to seek help, talk to a therapist or alter their diet to support their own wellbeing. They are also more likely to commit to ongoing treatment, and that’s really important in maintaining good health.

Female patients come to acupuncture because it works for so many of their health issues without treating them as separate individual problems. In Chinese medicine, we look at the whole person – as three-dimensional, multi-faceted individuals not simply a collection of random symptoms. In fact symptoms that appear random to a doctor and would be treated individually, often make total sense to an acupuncturist.  I’ve had patients referred from neurologists for migraine* and gynecologists for infertility* and menopause* as these conditions have been approved by NICE. *

Sometimes we are able to treat a patient so that the problem they present with completely disappears, and other times it’s a matter of treating patients so that their condition is managed without resorting to drugs. Often they remain on ‘maintenance’ coming once a month to stay well. That way we pick up problems before they get worse and nip them in the bud.

Kaylee came to me convinced that acupuncture would make no difference! But as she said ‘I’m desperate’.  I treated Kaylee predominantly with acupuncture and occasionally with TuiNa. But acupuncture has undoubtedly been the most effective for her. She now comes for treatment monthly to keep everything in balance.

Here‘s Kaylee’s story:

‘I was reluctant to try Acupuncture. I have a medical background and thought it was all a bit mind over matter “hocus pocus”, however, I was feeling that that the GP wasn’t really listening and couldn’t offer any medication or suggestions that worked without side effects. I had tried to manage my symptoms with exercise, healthy eating and herbal remedies but the added stress I was feeling from my work was making me very unwell. My colleagues said that acupuncture helped them and if anything I’d said I’d go so that I could say I tried it.

I have Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) which was the main reason for most of my symptoms. I have suffered from the below since puberty;

Water retention, chronic period pain, bloating, constipation, irregular periods, fluctuating mood, poor digestion and just general fatigue. All symptoms fluctuated and were exacerbated by the consumption of food and my irregular period cycle. 

I had weak ankles and they became sore when I was running. I also had a back injury caused by my crossfit exercise class. It was painful to sit and tender to touch when went for my first treatment. My overall physical health contributed to general anxiety but I was under a lot of pressure at work and was unable to manage my stress levels. 

All of the above symptoms have reduced significantly. 

When I first started to go, following each session I would feel immediate benefits. I felt more relaxed, my ankles and fingers (water retention) felt less puffy and my digestion improved. 

The most significant change was my period pain. The pain used to be so bad that I would have to dose myself with a concoction of 3 types of strong painkillers every 4 hours for 2 3 days. They made me drowsy but if the pain started at work I would not be able to make it home because the pain was immobilising. Now I take a maximum of 6 mild painkillers over 2 days. Close friends and family started commenting how much more relaxed I was. 

For a non-believer this has been a humbling experience. I think that this ongoing treatment has helped me physically and mentally.

Rita is kind, she listens and she understands. Id definitely recommend her.

*https://www.nice.org.uk

Prolapsed discs, back pain and sciatica – Steve and Jacki’s stories

Steve’s Story

Early in 2016, Steve suffered a second prolapsed disc in his lower spine and decided to look for an alternative to medication and potential surgery (which he’d had the first time around) and to subdue the resulting sciatica.

He had a lot of pain in his lower back, nerve pain in the right buttock and severe cramp like feeling in his right calf. Sitting for any period of time was very uncomfortable as was walking any distance. He was advised by his GP to refrain from surgery as long as possible whilst remaining on very strong medication. Although he persisted with medication (some with risk of addiction) he did not want to rely on them so sought an alternative solution.

Steve found me by reading Jacki’s testimonial (below) so contacted me to arrange treatment.

 

Read about Steve’s experience:

One of the side effects of herniated discs are that the back muscles go into spasm. Treatment with Rita helped alleviate these spasms which had the added benefit of a more positive mental outlook too as it was the beginning of ‘winning’ against the pain. The actual sciatica was finally reduced to the point it no longer really affects me at all.

An intense batch of treatments certainly helped and for me the acupuncture and tuina were initially the most effective. I have also subsequently found that cupping is effective at keeping the muscle tension under control.

From the outset Rita made me fell very comfortable and relaxed. She has an extremely friendly personality and is very knowledgable about her practices and has a very interesting career story to where she is now. The treatment clinic is very comfortable, clean and airy. The equipment Rita uses is in excellent condition.

I was lucky enough to have found Rita’s practice lived up to the testimonial that I read that persuaded me to give it a chance. In a relatively short period, considering the condition, I am in a position of activity and movement I was prior to my disc herniating.

I would definitely recommend Rita to others. In fact recently I passed her details on to a friend at mine from my Tai Chi class.

 

Jacki’s Story

When I first heard from Jacki, she was concerned she wouldn’t be able to walk from her home to my clinic (a matter of a less than quarter of a mile). She was hunched over and in considerable pain. She had two prolapsed discs which meant she had severe back pain and sciatica which also travelled down the side of her leg. Like many clients with similar conditions, she was very concerned about getting the right treatment as the condition can easily be aggravated.

Conditions such as this often go through cycles of crises and then bearable, but still chronic pain. Treating Jacki involved managing the current crisis then finding the right balance of therapeutic modalities to support her recovery. In these cases, practitioners can’t ‘cure’ a prolapsed disc, but we can reduce pain and disability so that clients can function and enjoy life without invasive surgery.

Electro acupuncture, TuiNa massage, cupping and TokSen were all appropriate treatments and her recovery has been stable and long lasting. She continues to come for maintenance once a month to ensure her back is kept healthy.

 

Read about Jacki’s experience:

I contacted Rita because I wanted to avoid major back surgery for as long as possible, and she had a good local reputation. I had severe lower back pain and sciatica caused by prolapsed discs for some years which had been unresponsive to a number of other therapies.

Rita resolved the sciatica within two sessions and my back pain is very much improved. I’ve responded well to all the therapies Rita uses, each chosen for individual and current problems. She’s very professional and I’m delighted with the results.

I can now enjoy playing and looking after my two small grandsons which would have been impossible before Rita worked her magic! I would definitely recommend her.

 

Read more about sciatica:

http://peachyacupuncture.com/2015/01/28/sciatica-a-right-pain-in-ae/

J and Belinda’s stories – Coping with anxiety

J’s Story

J is a bright, successful woman in her 40’s who was clearly very distressed when we first met. She was sleep deficient, very anxious and felt quite out of control.

 

She came to see me while struggling with a very painful, emotional and life changing difficult situation. She’d struggled through 4 weeks of anxiety, feeling sick, disorientated, unable to sleep or think clearly. She had tried conventional medicine, and was starting on sleeping tablets and seriously considering anti-depressants.

 

Read about J’s experience:

I cannot over-state the impact even just the first treatment made. And I honestly don’t know how I would have managed to cope with things without it.

 

Immediately, within minutes, I was able to think more clearly, breathe more easily, and over time, deal with high stress situations with more calm and perspective. Physical symptoms (sickness, panic, sleep issues) were eased, and mental stability and clarity were substantially improved, with effects lasting long after treatment.

 

Being calmer, better able to see past the emotional stress was absolutely critical in working through the most difficult days, and make reasoned and rational decisions. That wouldn’t have been possible without Rita’s expertise.

 

I don’t quite know how to say this – I’ve had acupuncture before, and found the effects calming and soothing. BUT, what Rita does is just so much stronger, impactful, it’s a genuine treatment for your symptoms. I’d say to anyone, no matter how serious the problems – physical or emotional – don’t under-estimate this form of Acupuncture’s ability to help you.

 

Rita is a wise, warm, practitioner. But what stands out for me is her absolute focus on understanding and treating you.

 

J, Crouch End

 

Belinda’s story

Belinda was preparing to get married but experiencing anxiety and stress particularly in relation to preparing for her wedding. This was making her feel down and affecting her energy levels. Organising a wedding can be challenging at the best of times and many people find the stress of it can be overwhelming.

 

Read about Belinda’s experience:

I really wanted to try acupuncture as I had heard positive things and Rita was local and came highly recommended on Crouch End Facebook group.

 

Rita has a home-based clinic which is very private, comfortable and relaxing. I started feeling positive effects after my first session and felt a combination of the acupuncture treatment and the tuina massage was very effective in helping me to relax. I continued to do weekly sessions with Rita and I have been so much more relaxed as a result. I am sleeping better, my skin feels great and most importantly I feel great too.

 

Rita is so professional. There is a natural apprehension that comes with having acupuncture for the first time but Rita really puts you at ease. She has a calm, gentle manner and is very sensitive to placing the treatment needles. Rita is also very intuitive and works very holistically, if you mention any other symptoms or problems you might be having she works them into her treatment. I have been raving about her treatment and the benefits I felt from it to friends and family.

 

I am hoping to continue with a monthly session as I have found it so beneficial to me.

 

Belinda, Crouch End

 

Read more about anxiety:

http://peachyacupuncture.com/2016/06/03/anxiety-overthinking-worrying-everything/