On The Trails Again: How Acupuncture Helped My Dad
Updated: Jun 14, 2019
I know everyone says it, but seriously, my dad is a really great guy! One of the things about him that make him so great is his love of nature and being outdoors. Going for outdoor excursions together is our tradition and how we bond as father and daughter. He has taught me how to spot different birds, what an eagle’s voice really sounds like, and how to have compassion for even the world’s smallest creatures. I enjoy the world around me more because of his appreciation for the wilderness.
Four years ago my father started suffering from severe knee pain and we couldn’t walk the trails together. All of a sudden he couldn’t walk around the house without pain, let alone go for a hike outside. An MRI showed that he tore his medial meniscus. His doctor prescribed him physical therapy, and said that if that didn’t work, they would need to surgically repair the joint. The doctor emphasized that it was important to do everything possible to avoid surgery because of the likelihood it would further damage the knee joint.
After several weeks of PT my dad did not see any improvement, in fact his knee pain got worse. This is not to say PT doesn’t work – I’ve done PT myself and have had great improvement, but in this case it wasn’t enough. At the time I was in my final semesters of the 4-year Acupuncture Masters program in New York City and was practicing as a massage therapist there. Even though my father was supportive of my career choice, he had doubts. “I just don’t understand how it could help,” he would say, or, “isn’t it all just in your head?”
At this point he was already walking with a knee brace, a cane, and taking painkillers as well as anti-inflammatories. It seemed he had aged 20 years in 2 months. I’ll never forget watching him as he slowly made his way up a few stairs, wincing in pain, hunched over and using a cane – it broke my heart.
Finally I convinced him to start acupuncture treatments twice a week in the clinic run by the college. I loved getting to see my father so frequently and everyone loved his presence in the clinic. People would stop me in the hall and say, “you’re dad is so wonderful!” or “what a great guy.” He is!
After two sessions my dad started feeling improvement in his knee with the level of pain decreasing as well as how often he felt it. After two months my father was walking and using stairs with no pain, no brace, and no medication. The acupuncture treatments did not make the cartilage grow back, but it helped decrease inflammation, decrease hypertonicity of muscles around the knee, increase circulation, and decreased pain. No surgery was needed!
It is more than four years since the initial injury and my father and his knee are doing great! He gained 20 years back by regaining full mobility of his knee, and he is back on the trails and telling everyone about how effective acupuncture is.
Best of all we are back on our walks again – now with the dog Bernie, the newest addition to the family … Happy Father’s Day Dad!
* We never release personal information without written permission. Thanks dad for letting me write about your experience.