Sarah Used Traditional Chinese Medicine for Leg Numbness

A couple of weeks following routine arthroscopic surgery on my left knee when I was 35, my leg went numb from the knee down. I went to see the orthopedic surgeon and he didn't know why it had gone numb, and couldn't recommend any treatment. He told me to come back in 6 months if it wasn't better!

A friend suggested I see her doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine, so I thought I'd give it a try. On the first visit he felt the pulses in my wrists and looked at my tongue. He said that after 3 visits my leg would be fine. Then he had me lie down on the table (I had brought shorts along so I changed into those) and he placed acupuncture needles in various places in my leg. I couldn't feel anything. On the second visit, I still couldn't feel anything. On the third visit, I just about jumped off the table when he put them in. Feeling had been restored! I was so relieved.

He also used something on my leg called "moxa," which is a stick made of healing herbs. It's about the size and shape of a cigar. He lit one end, blew it out, and moved it over m y leg to help stimulate blood flow to the area. It felt really nice and warm. (Moxa is also great for healing bruises.) He also prescribed herbs for me to drink that I mixed with hot water to make a tea. The herbs tasted awful at first, but over time grew to taste very good.

A philosophy of TCM is that it doesn't treat just symptoms - it supports educating people on diet and lifestyle so that they can be more responsible for their well-being. The doctor explained that in my case, my leg going numb was just a symptom of a larger issue - that I was, in general, "qi-deficient" (qi is the vital force, or energy, that runs through the body). It explained why I wasn't menstruating - I was too depleted to generate any "flow" throughout my body, or to my leg. After adhering to the doctor's prescriptions for a better diet, gentle exercise, and herbs, I began menstruating again.

Since I had such great results with TCM, I continued to see this doctor as my primary care doctor. One time I had the most horrible sore throat - it was so bad that I had to clench my fists to swallow. I went in to the TCM doctor and he did such acupuncture on my hands (including a very painful point on my thumb, which he said would release the heat build-up in my body) and gave me some herbs to drink. The next morning my throat was completely better - it was a miracle that the sore throat went away so quickly.

I highly recommend TCM for a wide variety of health concerns. I would advise people to make sure they're comfortable with the practitioner. Some TCM practitioners don't speak English - some people are okay with that, and others want a practitioner who they can talk to - be proactive about what feels right to you.