Acupuncture for polymyalgia pain: Lesley's story
I was diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR), a condition that causes pain, stiffness and inflammation, eight years ago. I was on tablets to reduce the pain and, for a while, they were mostly managing the symptoms.
After a few years, however, I had a bad flare-up. The pain in my neck, shoulders and arms meant I couldn’t turn my neck or get up from a sitting position without severe discomfort. So, my doctor suggested I try acupuncture.
I dislike needles so I wasn’t very keen on the idea. Plus, it was something I knew nothing about as I’d never really been convinced by the idea of alternative therapies before. But I trusted my doctor so I was willing to try - and I was beginning to feel like I was out of other options. I was advised that six weekly sessions should be enough.
During the first session, I kept my eyes tightly closed. The acupuncturist said he would put five needles in the back of each hand and another five in my neck and shoulders and would leave them there.
He quietly talked to me about holidays and my interests while he did it and all I felt was a tiny prick - like a pinprick - until one in my neck made me jump. He calmly said that it meant he had found the right spot. After 10 minutes he gave each needle a quick turn, which didn’t hurt at all.
After another 10 minutes, he removed all the needles and asked me to rate the pain from one to 10. It was still hovering around 10. However, after each of the following five sessions, the pain gradually decreased.
When he asked the same question after my sixth and final session, I could honestly say that I was pain-free.
After struggling with such intense pain I never believed that acupuncture could work. I will do it again if I ever need to - I am converted.
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