Although holistic medicine is generally frowned upon in the US, I have grown up with a chiropractor since birth. Dr. Henry is one of the greatest male figures in my life and I make a point of it to see him every time I go back to the US. His practice is not mystics or voodoo; it’s purely anatomical brilliance.
With a painful, achy shoulder for nearly two months, I decided my problem was not just about sore muscles after some strenuous upper-body workouts. My sleeping was also effected because my posture caused continual pain in the same area. Whatever the reason, I felt it needed to be checked out by a chiropractor rather than a general practitioner.
When I finally got around to visiting the People’s Hospital of Zhuhai, I was prepared for anything. I had never seen a chiropractor in China before, but I was determined to experience it and make some comparisons. After all, Dr. Henry’s practice stems from Chinese medicine. Getting in line was easy; as usual, it only cost 4RMB ($0.70) to register. When I got into the doctor’s office I found a vacant stool next to his desk, which I decided was where visitors were expected to squat on. Actually, it kept my back quite straight during the consultation. After I described my condition, he walked around me and grabbed my neck bones with his left hand. His right hand began to massage the sides, perhaps in order to check for dislocation or abnormalities. When he was finished, he suggested a medical massage and an x-ray.
I laughed a little at the x-ray and began to make my case against it. Dr. Henry would never require me to get an x-ray for this kind of discomfort. (Maybe it was just offered to make me feel better… who knows.) When the only option was a “massage”, I felt a natural flight-response pull me towards the door. I tried to make it clear that my chiropractor in the US would never prescribe a massage for this kind of bone-related issue. However, this Chinese doctor couldn’t imagine any other way of dealing with it. Continue reading My Journey with Chinese Chiropractic (Part 1)
When I came back he was already seeing another patient. As most do in China, I cut in and made my request to try the medical massage. With a flick of his pen, and 64RMB ($9.50) later, I found myself standing in front of a peculiar contraption. It was a mix of metal, chains and leather straps. I was told to straddle it and fix my head in between the front and back leather straps. A crank was turned by one of the doctors, which pulled my head toward the ceiling! At this point, I got a bit nervous; shouldn’t a fuzzy TV screen turn on featuring a scary clown doll with a spooky voice? (Like in the “Saw”series)
15 minutes before completing a full cycle on this thing, I broke free and asked if I could use heat instead. In fact, both methods were being used by patients who were preparing for the massage therapy. When I finally got on the little wooden stool in front of another doctor, he began asking what my discomfort was. After explaining a second time, I started to get a violently strong neck massage. Tears were gathering in the first few minutes and I had no idea what would happen to me! Then he moved to my right shoulder and the muscles around my collar bone. That is when I felt true pain. He found two pressure/acupuncture points “Xue Wei” like some kind of ninja; and seconds later I was subjugated; forced to twitch and move around like a puppet!
Within 20 minutes my right arm was curved over my head and moderate pressure was applied to a chunk of back muscles. I heard light snaps. And the last 5 minutes would help smooth out the nearby knots in my neck and surrounding shoulder blade area. It seemed that my desired “back breaking” had happened.
Then I asked, “are knots OK sometimes?” He said “knots only exist when something is wrong.” It was then that I realized that our skeletons are not always in control of our bodies. Sometimes our muscles, when agitated over months and years, can take control and leave us in naturally-occurring pain. Some bones move out of place and cause any number of problems. In my case the agitation led to sleep deprivation, which caused other health problems. Continue reading My Journey with Chinese Chiropractic (Part 2)