A 52 year old man came to see me complaining of severe back pain. It had been a problem for more than 30 years and had become severe enough he was ready to do something to get it cleared. The intake revealed that in addition to the back pain he was also under very high levels of stress from his job as an engineer.
Treatment started with acupuncture for the back pain combined with two formulas for the stress. The first treatment cleared the pain for 4 days. For the following month the patient was treated weekly which then moved to every other week. Within 4 months the back pain would only occur when the patient performed activities that would stress it, such as a full day of gardening or moving equipment at work. During the period the patient used several different herbal formulas to support the acupuncture treatments. When I suggested moving to monthly visits, the patient said it was making him feel so good he wanted to come in every other week. At that point the acupuncture treatments depended on his current issues. If the back was acting up that would be the treatment focus. Otherwise acupuncture would be used to help him manage stress resulting from his work.
Comments: This case was particularly satisfying for me as a physician. It also is illustrative of a common pattern when a patient starts seeing me. The initial complaint, the 30 years of chronic back pain, decreased quickly and was easily manageable thereafter. At this stage in his life the root cause of the discomfort in his life was the stress at work. As the work stress was not going away, regular acupuncture treatments and herbs minimized the effects to his system. The treatment would not have happened if he were not already a patient as he would never have considered coming to an acupuncturist for that condition.