Saturday, December 4, 2010

Traditional Oriental Medicine: Acupuncture and Cupping

Today Meg and I went to a clinic to get some acupuncture and cupping done.  

Going into it, I didn't really know what to expect.

When we arrived at the office, there was little English spoken. I had made the appointment the previous day with the help of a Korean coworker who was able to translate. The doctor asked various questions about where I was injured or in pain, how long I had felt it, and other general questions about my health. 

I'm not actually injured, but I said I have had some skin problems since I arrived in Korea, my back was sometimes tense, and my hip flexors hurt (after running 10km races without training before hand-- totally my fault, I know). She seemed interested in treating the hip flexors, so I went with it.
Lots of needles!

For Meg, I reported that she had back pain stemming from a childhood injury of flying off a swing and landing back-first. This story is true.

Upon arrival, we walked into the herbal smelling office and were taken into a room with two small beds behind curtains. Meg lay on her stomach and I lay on my back. In came a tray full of needles.

The doctor put 12 needles in my legs; two running down my hip flexor, and 2 on each side of my knee. Every time she flicked the needle in, I could definitely feel something twitch in my leg that was extending beyond where the site of the needle was. It is hard to explain, but the sensation was like a dull electricity shooting through (what I assume) was the tendon running down my leg, followed by relaxation.. but only in that tendon. They left those in for about 10 minutes with a heat lamp over my body, and then came in and removed them. One must have struck a nerve or something, because my leg seized up as soon as she took it out of my hip. A strange sensation to say the least.

Next was the sucking machine. Four little rubber cups were put on my legs and a machine would increase the suction and decrease every few seconds. It sounded like it was breathing, and felt like an animal was sucking on my legs. It kind of tickled. Kept those on for about 10 minutes.

Next was the cupping. The doctor came in and heated each cup and stuck them onto my legs. Probably close to 15~20 in all. This was probably the most painful, as those little glass cups made a strong suction onto my legs! Those stayed on for about 10 minutes. 

She finished by giving quick injections into my leg of a "herbal muscle relaxant"... too quickly for me to inquire what a "herbal muscle relaxant" was. Ahh well.

A coworker forewarned me about all of these things before the appointment, and explained that if the skin turns black after cupping, it means you are injured/unhealthy/sick. I am proud to say that after cupping, my legs were no different looking than before. Meg, on the other hand, had quite the opposite. She was left with big purple circles where each of the cups had been; some worse than others. Her back looks like it is covered in polka dots, actually. Quite funny, and for the past few days you can still see three dots on her shoulders through any shirt she is wearing. 

Overall I give the experience 6 Lstan thumbs up.

It was relaxing under the heat lamps, smelled nice in there, and felt...interesting. I didn't feel any better or worse after the appointment, though my muscles felt pretty weak for the rest of the morning. It set me back  $14 for the hour.

Maybe next time I get an actual injury I will consider getting acupuncture again. Until then, I'll just stick with massage.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12/10/2010

    i hear only the healthy ppl bruise. true story