Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the body’s own immune system begins attacks the joints. In mild cases it can just cause pain and swelling in a few joints, primarily the smaller joints of the hands or feet. In advanced cases, it can deform the joints, causing the hands to change shape. In very advanced cases, it can affect every joint in the body, along with many internal organs.
Unfortunately, this woman’s case was very advanced. It had impacted almost every joint in her body, requiring 13 surgeries. All of the joints in her hands and feet had been removed, both her knees had been replaced, several vertebrae in her neck and back had been fused, and surgeons were recommending hip replacements as well, after she broke both hips. Last October she fell and broke her left hip Then while recovering in the hospital, she had a heart attack, fell, and broke her right hip. After recovering, she had started physical therapy twice a week, but was recovering slowly, and required a cane or walker to get around.
Fortunately, her physical therapist referred her to us. In just two treatments she was in much less pain and walking more freely. She was impressed that two acupuncture treatments had made her feel better than months of PT, and wished she had started sooner. Now she has hope that she may be able to recover without requiring hip replacement surgery.
I wish she had started sooner too. I can only imagine how much pain and surgery we might have spared her, if she had started treatments at the beginning stages of her disease, instead of waiting until she was so advanced. We might have been able to spare her years of pain, surgery, and debilitation. Unfortunately, too often in the West, acupuncture is often the treatment of last resort, patients turn to us when nothing else works. But at HeCares, we hope to establish that acupuncture and Chinese medicine as the treatment of first resort.
We may be able to spare her from getting two more surgeries on her hips. We only wish we had been able to prevent the other 13.
David Dick, L. Ac., DAOM