Acupuncture: Alternative Remedy

CHRIS SINCLAIR/New University

Headaches, allergies, lower back pains, random tweaks and aches – these are the physical curses of being human. We feel invincible one moment and become a broken record of complaining the next. We are always in need of a doctor who usually provides us with a bottle of pills, sends us off to bed to do nothing or tells us that surgery should do the trick.

All in all, nothing seems to put us back in our original state quickly. What if I told you that I found a doctor who simply sticks a few needles into you and all your pains and aches disappear in a matter of a few days (or, in my case, a couple of minutes)? Better yet, it was only $40. Say good-bye to unnecessary expensive doctor bills.

I rolled my left ankle five weeks ago during a volleyball match when I went up for a block. I have had my fair share of painful experiences with ankle injuries, but this one really did some damage. It was by far the most painful injury I have dealt with.

My ankle instantly swelled up to the size of two baseballs, which left me to hobble from class to class on crutches for the next three days. The sports medicine doctor informed me that I had torn some ligaments and tendons and was on the brink of breaking it.

I started off my rehab with the typical RICE method: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. I stuck with that for a good two weeks and the swelling went down to the size of one baseball. It was still painful, however, and limited my range of motion.

For the next three weeks, my mother decided to send me to a Chinese doctor who put some icky, slimy, smelly stuff on the protruding areas of my ankle and told me to continue the routine for the next five weeks.

Five weeks sounded long and ridiculous. Right when I was about to give up hope, my aunt and uncle suggested I try acupuncture because it had done miracles for the pains that have come with old age; recently, my aunt’s horrible allergies symptoms had miraculously disappeared after the one-time needle treatment.

At this point, I was frustrated and desperate. I had heard about the wonders of acupuncture and I thought, “What the heck? I have nothing to lose so let’s just do this.”

As I entered the small store of Total Fitness Acupuncture located in Los Angeles’ Korea Town, I was greeted by a friendly, elderly Korean doctor named Young Han Kim. My aunt and uncle had already relayed the message of what was wrong with my ankle. Without a single glance at my injury, he pulled out two skinny needles, each about two inches long, and told me to roll up the sleeves of my right arm.

He told me not to worry as he stuck the two needles in my right arm. I felt nothing more than a small pinch. Then he told me to start running. I thought he was joking. I looked at him just to make sure I had heard him correctly because, for the past month or so, I had not been able to walk at a quick pace, let alone run. But with the two needles still stuck in my right arm, I started running and felt absolutely fine. I even added in a little hop here and there. I felt weak, but the excruciating pain was gone and that was what had been preventing me from doing any intense physical activity. I felt like I was ready to take on the world with the two needles sticking out of my arm.

As I ran back and forth down the hallway of the office, I could feel an uncomfortable throb and a knock of consistent pain throughout my right arm. Dr. Kim informed me that it was normal because the pain balled up in my left ankle was being released into my right arm. The needle pinpointed pressure pain points, which diagonally connected my left ankle to my right arm.

Dr. Kim then replaced the two needles stuck in my arm with two half-inch needles and two more in the back of my left ankle. He placed medical tape over the needles in my limbs and told me to leave them in for five days. He also provided me with a bag filled with white powdered medicine.

In the next couple of days, the swelling in my ankle was almost completely gone. The day after my visit with Dr. Kim, I went on my first 20-minute run along one of Irvine’s many beautiful bike trails and it felt amazing to sweat, breathe hard and feel free, thanks to acupuncture.