hip pain treatment with abdominal acupuncture protocols
hip pain treated by abdominal acupuncture

The Aches and Pains of a Horse Whisperer

Henry had been working with horses for over 35 years! His job involved breaking horses and training feisty mares and stubborn stallions to become race horses. This job demands fast response times and agility in order to avoid serious injury from a horse's hoof! Henry contacted me because of hip pain and back pain in the lower lumbar area.

Hip Pain and Lower Back Pain

Henry had slight hip pain on the left as a result of surgery 6 months previous to replace the hip. His right hip was more painful and was due to be replaced, he had been told that surgery would be necessary within a year. Henry also had pain in the right shoulder at the joint mainly which felt like it was bone deep, his right foot gave him paroxysmal pain which could be quite debilitating when it was active.

Henry had acupuncture years back and so he was familiar with the concept of having traditional acupuncture but had never heard of Abdominal Acupuncture (AA)! I explained to him that abdominal acupuncture is different for many reasons, the main ones for him to be aware of was that he should have little or no awareness of the needles. I told him I would work within a small area on the abdomen between Ren 12 (Zhongwan) and Ren 4 (Guanyuan) and between Sp 15 (Daheng) as the outermost horizontal point.

I informed Henry that as Abdominal Acupuncture is very subtle in nature and often requires fine tuning (adjustment of both depth and location) of the needles in order to get the best results, I would need to communicate with him the degree of changes in his pain as the treatment progressed. He was asked to focus on each area that was causing him discomfort and to give each a reference score of 10 out of 10 (or 100%). I emphasised the importance of this reference point and told him to score the pain as it was at that moment, rather than against a scale of what it had been before. He diligently scored each area of his back, hips, shoulder and foot at a reference score of 10 out of 10.

First Abdominal Acupuncture Treatment

The session began with a detailed diagnosis of his abdomen, which has a number of components;

Observation; revealed that even at the age of 55 he was still quite fit and his Kidney and Spleen Yang energy was still strong, this was apparent by his normal umbilicus and firm abdominal muscles. There were no discolorations to indicate Heat, Cold or Blood Stasis in any anatomical area as reflected by the blueprint of the Turtle used to image the body in AA (see fig 1).

Temperature; Using the back of my hand I felt the different zones and anatomical areas for temperature changes, the right hip felt a little cold compared to the other areas which felt normal.

Palpation; The whole area was palpated using the palm and particularly the important Qi gong zone of the PC and Ht. Nothing of concern was felt. A closer inspection (using the pad of my middle finger) around the regions which reflect the lumbar area between Ren 6 (Qihai) & Ren 4 (Guanyuan) revealed some small bead like nodes just above Ren 4. Inspection at the right hip and shoulder showed similar little nodes, the foot area had very superficial nodules there was nothing particular at the left hip area (St 26) indicating hip pain.

Fig 1 The Miraculous Turtle hologram

The prescription used was comprehensive in order to address all the issues. “Bringing Qi home” with St 24 (Huaroumen), St 25 (Tianshu), St 26 (Wailing) and Sp 15 (Daheng) all bilaterally, Qihai was used on the left to move qi into the right leg, this was achieved by needling Ab 4 (Knee) and Ab 6 (Ankle) and the small ahshi nodes around the foot on the right. A number of extra (Ahshi) points as represented by the nodes were inserted to stop the lumbar pain just above Ren 4. Kidney 13 (Qixue) was needled bilaterally to consolidate this and further strengthen the Kidneys and influence their effect on bone. The right Hip area at St 26 (Wailing) required 2 needles to address the pain, whereas the left responded to just one. The right St 24 (shoulder point) was put to a depth of 0.4cun to get deep to the bone where the problem was and upon checking with Henry the pain had reduced to 1 or 2 out of 10, I decided that there was no need to add anymore needles in the area.

All needles were initially inserted superficially and then the main points were fixed to the correct depth within the Heaven (superficial) level. The ahshi points and areas of pain required some fine tuning until Henry acknowledged all pain except at his foot had reduced to a reference score 2-3.

Fig 2 An illustration of the Horse Whisperer’s first treatment

Abdominal Prescription Explanation

“Bringing Qi Home” Ren 12 (Zhongwan), Ren 10 (Xiawan), Ren 6 (Qihai) and Ren 4 (Guanyuan), stimulates the whole of the spine, strengthens the Kidneys bone, muscle and tendons.

Kidney13 (Qixue) further strengthen the Kidneys and worked locally on the lumbar area.

Shoulder points, St24 (Huaroumen) and Hip points, St26 (Wailing) are also known as the abdominal four gates with similar functions, they move Yang qi throughout the back and towards the upper and lower limbs. St25 (Tianshu) with Sp 15 (Daheng) move qi through the mid back (T-12) nourish muscle, stop pain, stiffness and remove dampness.

Qipang or Ab 7 is on the Kidney meridian and serves to move qi from the Kidneys through the opposite leg.

The Second Treatment

On the next visit Henry confirmed that the foot pain was gone and that his lumbar & right sided hip pain and stiffness had reduced by over 50%. His left hip was improved by 70% and the result lasted the whole week, while the right shoulder pain was reduced by approximately 70% for the first 3 days and the pain gradually came back as he continued to use it working with horses. His foot had gradually improved over the days after treatment and the pain was only marginal. Henry was happy with the progress and he acknowledges that he felt more sure footed when dealing with the feisty younger horses which could be unpredictable and would frequently change direction pulling on the harness very quickly! The main focus of this treatment was to continue to resolve the shoulder, lower back and hip pain while nourishing the Kidneys to help with the osteoporosis and also nourish the damaged joints and muscle.

The prescription this time was Bringing Qi home, Kid 13 (Qixue) bilateral with the four gates and Sp 15 (Daheng). All the Ren, Kid and Spleen points were put to a depth of 0.6cun just touching the border of the Heaven level the four gates went to a depth of 0.4 cun except for the shoulder and Hip on the effected right side. I used a triangular format of 3 points around the Hip point on the right the depths were in the region of 0.3-0.5 cun and a similar format was used on St 24, the shoulder point on the right. I chose to just use St 27 (Daju) on the right to address the foot once more, there were no palpable foot ahshi points. I needled St 27 (Daju), which anatomically is equivalent to Kid 1 (Yongquan) to a depth of 0.3cun. Henry felt very comfortable and drifted off, he said after the session that the hip pain and shoulder pain was negligible, the back had some stiffness and the foot felt good.

Fig 3 An illustration of the Horse Whisperer’s second treatment.

Progress was good and by the third week, Henry was for the main pain free on the left hip and the right foot, the shoulder, back and right hip pain was reduced by between 50-70% and seemed to hold at that level for up to 4 days.

I treated Henry on a further four occasions and over the course of the acupuncture sessions I rotated the above treatments, there was no need to treat the foot or left Hip after the third session as the pain was much better. I adjusted Ahshi points as they changed. I added GB 41 (Zu Lin Qi) on the left and SJ 5 (Waiguan) on the right to open the Dai Mai (Girdle Vessel) when the hip pain was more pronounced. On other occasions I would also include Ht 7-5 (Ahshi) on the left with Kid 6-7 on the right to also address the shoulder and complete a Shao Yin : Shao Yang global balance to consolidate the treatment.


Over the course of the 6 treatments the right hip pain improved by around 75%, the shoulder pain reduced by 70%, the back improved by approximately 70% while the foot and left hip problem was completely resolved. As the horse racing season was coming into full speed Henry had to stop treatments as he was training horses and travelling abroad to race meetings and markets! There was also a setback that I feel hindered the progress, Henry got jerked by one of the horses which resulted in him falling on his right side. This fall aggravated the shoulder and hip pain in particular, unfortunately, due to his busy schedule he could not have any extra treatments. Ideally I would have seen him more frequently & continued to treat this difficult case but his work commitments interfered. I think that the results could have been improved upon if the heavy, demanding work load could have been eased, but hey, we do what we can do.

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