My name is Cara, and I am a 22 year-old stroke survivor who suffered from left-side paralysis and have tried various healing methods in hopes of reaching a full recovery: I’m an avid reader of this blog, and I honor its mission to never limit one’s healing. I have tried mostly a mixture of both Western and Eastern healing methods. I would like to describe my experience with an Eastern form of medicine and healing method — acupuncture. It has been almost four months since I had my stroke, and I have gotten almost 60% mobility back on my left side as of today. In my experience, most of my mobility was regained in a short amount of time (two weeks) after receiving acupuncture.
[guest article] acupuncture and stroke recovery
Now, what exactly is acupuncture? It’s a set of procedures that involve stimulating anatomical points on the body by various techniques. The different techniques I have gotten done on my body by my acupuncturist are needles, cupping, and acupressure. Acupuncture needles are the most commonly known, where thin needles are placed on various points of the body to bring pain relief and energy balance in the body. Cupping is where glass cups are placed on the body and a vacuum is created inside the cup, sucking the skin into the cup where blood flow rushes to the area, improving circulation. Lastly, acupressure is basically acupuncture without the needles, where the acupuncturist manually applies pressure to specific points on the body using fingertips. For today, I will focus on acupuncture needles and my experience with this.
I’ll start with what a typical acupuncture session is like. My acupuncturist, Dana, comes to my home six days a week, and each session lasts an hour. I eat an hour beforehand, as it is better to have food in the stomach while getting acupuncture done. Once Dana arrives, she asks me to show her what I can do on my left side, like lifting my arm and leg. Next, I am asked to lie down on my back while Dana grabs the tools she needs for the session. She usually wipes a cotton swab with alcohol on it to various spots on my body where she will soon place the needles. I get somewhere from 10-20 thin needles placed into varying locations from my ears, face, arms, fingers, hand, and to my legs. Sometimes the needles are just pricked into the skin, and other times they are twisted deeper into the skin. They are left in my body for 30 minutes, and after that, the needles are taken out one by one. Then, I am asked to show what more I can do on my left side — for example, sometimes lifting my arm and leg again higher and higher. Finally, I end the session by drinking a cup of warm water to help with the circulation in my body.
The results I have experienced from acupuncture are significant. For instance, I have regained mobility in most of my major arm and leg muscles, being able to move my toes and clench my fist too. I was able to lift my arm and leg and clench my fist within two weeks of having had my first acupuncture session three months ago.
In addition, I have experienced other forms of relief from acupuncture, like alleviation from nausea, constipation, and the clearing of pimples.
Importantly, acupuncture has helped with sensitivity. I remember for my very first session, I had very slight sensitivity issues on my left arm (I could not feel the intensity of the needles) which acupuncture was able to heal pretty quickly . . . I could feel everything completely on my left arm after only three sessions.
Moving on to the most common question I’ve been asked about acupuncture: Does it hurt? For the most part, no. Sometimes if the needles are pushed too deeply into the skin, it can be painful, but never excruciating. The acupuncture sessions are usually very relaxing, as I tend to fall asleep during them. 🙂
Overall, I wouldn’t say acupuncture alone has brought me to this point of my recovery, as I do physical and occupational therapy as well; and being a spiritual person, I also credit God for all my healing. However, if you are someone or know someone struggling with paralysis of the body, it wouldn’t hurt to try out acupuncture and see what happens from there.