Sunday, August 1, 2010


Here I sit at the computer--no headache this morning, no headache at bedtime last night, no headache during the day or during the night, no shoulder pain waking me up at night or bugging me during the day. The truth is that I am an extremely healthy person except that I get headaches and have shoulder tendinitis. The shoulders have bothered me off and on over the years, and headaches came and went, more often in the hot weather. I've had physical therapy and a cortisone shot for the shoulders which worked for a while, and I have various medications for the headaches. Thanks to the Honest Weight Food Co-op, I've also had the opportunity to try a free session of both healing touch and reflexology, besides regularly using essential oils.

This year I have been plagued by these two issues since March. Daily headaches in cold weather? I was not happy about this. Intense violin rehearsals for many concerts all Spring that irritated the shoulders?--not fair to be suffering for something I love to do! During the month of May, I had only nine days without a headache, along with fairly continuous shoulder pain. Should I go back to the orthopedist to get a prescription for more physical therapy? Should I go back to the neurologist for new (stronger) headache meds?

I didn't want more drugs, and I was convinced that my shoulder issues and headaches were related. Since medical specialists who had treated me in the past focused on their specific areas, I wanted to try something new. When all of the Excedrin I was taking began to bother my stomach, I said enough was enough. My friend, Linda, recommended The Acupuncture Office in Latham, and I made an appointment with Judy Kodela.

My first impression upon entering Judy's examination room was the relaxed pace with which she questioned me, her easy conversation, and her quiet moments thinking about my situation. Her entire approach was completely different from my usual doctors visits. Within the first fifteen minutes of the hour-long appointment she said, "I'm sure the shoulder issues and headaches are related." I felt instant confidence that she could help me. She studied my tongue twice, took my pulse from both wrists, and pushed pressure points behind my neck, upper back, hands, and feet. At each pressure point she found a tender spot and a corresponding release point, allowing tight areas of my shoulders to relax.

Judy played relaxation music as she inserted fine, painless, needles into my hands, feet, knees, stomach, and one in the forehead. None went into my shoulders, or the nose and eye area of my head where my headaches always begin. Then she left me to lie flat, listening to the music for about ten minutes. When she returned and took out the needles, she asked, "Now, how do you feel?" No shoulder pain, no headache.

I was very excited the first week when four days went by and I had not had a headache. I was crushed on the fifth day when I felt the familiar pain begin on the side of my nose and intensify as it went behind my eye. The first week my shoulders were no better. The second week, I had three headaches, but the shoulders felt great about half the time. I was on a roller coaster--one day thrilled, disappointed the next.

Judy responded to my weekly reports by adding or subtracting pressure points and needles. She wanted better results, too. By the fourth appointment, progress was significant. I determined that I was having half the usual number of headaches, despite the 90-plus degree weather, and that my shoulders were 80% better. To give me a sense of control, Judy showed me how to find the push and release points so that I could decrease my shoulder pain myself. She also pointed out a few pressure spots on my nose and eye area that I could use if I felt a headache coming on.

At the fifth appointment, I told Judy that I had budgeted for six appointments. She nodded that she understood, but still wanted to beat those remaining headaches. At the final appointment, she inserted many more needles than she had during the past few appointments and left me alone with the music for a longer period.

Today, I would say that my shoulders are 90% better and my headaches are 60% fewer. Now I make a note of the days when I have a headache because they are comparatively rare. Usually two Excedrin will knock them out, and I only have to go for heavy-duty drugs about once a week. Having had six appointments in five weeks, I consider this a dramatic improvement, and I expect even better results as the weather cools. I feel more empowered and encouraged. As I left my final appointment, Judy said, "If you have any health problems in the future, come here first."

Would I go to the Acupuncture Office first if something else comes up? Well, I might try my doctor with her $15 co-pay first. But second, yes, I would definitely visit Judy again, mostly because I am determined not to get into chronic use of medications. The initial fee was $100. Each hour-long appointment thereafter was $70. I would encourage others to try this as a holistic, drug-free, alternative to conventional medications and procedures.

1 comment:

  1. I am really glad to hear you got relief for your head and shoulder pain through acupuncture treatments. I had a similar experience with that kind of pain after an auto accident. Medical doctors only offered ineffectual pain pills and muscle relaxers, but one treatment with acupuncture took away nearly all the pain. I sure wish my insurance would pay for the treatments, because they can be far more effective than conventional medicine.