Andy is a lean, fit construction worker in his 30’s. He was recommended to me because of his crippling anxiety, back and hip pain. He battled with himself on his journey to attend for his first ever acupuncture session. His anxiety was elevated to an almost paralysing level.
When he arrived 15 minutes late for his appointment he apologised a number of times and was more concerned about me, and how I was than what I could do for him. I explained to him about what acupuncture could treat and asked him what he needed help with. He explained his situation and how his anxiety was impacting on all aspects of his life. I asked if he had anything else he wanted me to help with and he told me that he had lumbar pain and lateral hip pain on both sides. His work was physically demanding and he was finding it more difficult to get through a normal work day with the constant pain and the crippling anxiety!
We chatted a little and as there was some time constraints (due to his late arrival ). I swiftly got on with the diagnosis. I checked his pulse. The most notable thing was the wiry and forceful nature of it. His left Cun was more rounded than the right. Hhis abdomen was very lean and tight. The temperature was good and there were no obvious issues other than small little superficial needle handle sized knots at both St 26 (Wailing) the Hip points. These were only apparent as I rested the pad of my middle finger in the area. They were difficult to detect with any further pressure. He was becoming more fearful as I started to open the needles. I asked him to focus on his pain and to reference each area of pain, and to score each at 10 out of 10. This also acted as a distraction. I quickly located the points and needled them without marking the points. I used Ren 17 (Shan Zhong) then "Heaven & Earth" Ren 12 (Zhongwan) and Ren 4 (Guanyuan) with Kid 13 (Qixue) and St 26 (Wailing) Hip points bilaterally. This process took about one or two minutes and he had to consciously restrain himself from pushing me away throughout this period of time. I told him that was it ! No more needles would be necessary. I checked how he was doing and he said one of the Kid 13 (Qixue) points was stinging a little, so I quickly removed it and inserted it again close by, painlessly.
I fixed all the Ren and Kidney points to a depth of about 0.3cun and then started to adjust the hip points There was a very slight resistance and after going through it I asked him how the pain was in the back and hips. He smiled and said that he couldn’t feel anything. I had him move to further confirm there was no pain. He was relieved in many ways!
Fig 1. Illustration of Andy's abdominal treatment.
At the end of the treatment he was incredibly thankful. He was smiling and delighted but almost feeling guilty that he felt so good. I told him to enjoy it, he asked if that was a normal reaction to acupuncture and I told him it can be, and often is! His anxiety was pretty much gone as was the pain. He was amazed and went off raving about how incredible he felt.
Abdominal Acupuncture doesn’t have to be complicated and time consuming. It is so gentle that it can quickly win over clients that are very fearful. All of his results were achieved with a total of seven needles. I probably could have got the same result without including Ren 17 (Shan Zhong), but it felt like a good place to start for this case.
Being able to remove pain at the same time as giving him some respite from his anxiety, allowed me to show Andy he power of Abdominal Acupuncture. He is now a great advocate of acupuncture. I praised him for facing his fear and showed him that his emotional issues can be helped without too much intervention. I also encouraged him to monitor his breathing habits and encouraged him to breathe through his nose when he catches himself breathing through his mouth as this will increase Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Nitric Oxide levels, (both of which have anti anxiety effects). This simple exercise would give Andy a little more self management over his anxiety.