Slipped Disc and Acupuncture: A Personal Experience

A slip disc (or spinal disc herniation) is a medical condition whereby the outer, fibrous ring of an intervertebral disc ruptures and allows the soft, central portion to bulge out, pressing against the spinal cord and triggering a sensation of pain.
A slip disc (or spinal disc herniation) is a medical condition whereby the outer, fibrous ring of an intervertebral disc ruptures and allows the soft, central portion to bulge out, pressing against the spinal cord and triggering a sensation of pain. | Source

It all started in late 1995 with a numbness, about the size of a 20-cent coin, some 3 inches above the outer ankle of my left leg. I was helping a colleague to take a rusty typewriter table downstairs for disposal, when the numbness suddenly appeared. I thought it would go away after a few days but it didn't. On the contrary, it became worse.

The company, that I was working for, had been taken over by one of its suppliers, after it could not repay its million-ringgit debts. I had resigned, after the new management gave me an offer that was very much less than what I was getting under the old management. This is against Malaysian law but as I knew that it would be pointless to fight the case, I decided to leave.

I applied for a few jobs but by the time I went for the interviews, sciatica had set in and I could hardly walk, as pain was radiating below my left knee,. Even so, I struggled by taking two tablets of Ponstan, a very potent painkiller. However, I didn't get any of the jobs, after they noticed how I walked.

What is a Slipped Disc?

Can You Heal a Herniated Disc?

Off to the Orthopedic Doctor

I finally decided to see an orthopedic doctor. He requested me to take a CAT scan and when he reviewed the results, he recommended immediate surgery, as I had a very bad slip disc at L4-L5, i.e. the intervertebral disc between my fourth and my fifth lumbar vertebra had ruptured and its jelly-like contents were putting considerable pressure on my spinal cord.

I asked the doctor whether there was any other alternatives and he just made a joke out of it, put on a monkey face, as if he was speaking to some idiot, and said: "I know you'd ask this. But what's the big deal about an operation?" I didn't like his attitude, so I went to see another orthopedic doctor. This one did some tests for me, after reviewing my CAT scan and confirmed that a surgery was required. When I asked the exact same question that I had asked the other doctor, he replied, "Your case is pretty bad. As you can see, you can't even lift up your left leg by more than 3 inches, while lying flat." After getting two similar opinions, I was finally convinced that a surgery was inevitable.

Since anything involving the backbone is considered a major surgery with high risk, my sister advised me to go to Singapore for the surgery. A colleague, who had undergone a similar operation at the National University Hospital in Singapore just the year earlier, brought me to that hospital, where I met a Prof. Dr. Dasday. Dr. Dasday advised me against undergoing the surgery, unless I really had no choice. He said: "If painkillers can help you, delay the operation as long as possible. Surgery is invasive and cuts into your tendons, meaning that it will weaken your entire spine. When this happens, a second surgery, either above or below your present afflicted vertebra, may be required in the future, for example, if you have a fall or someone accidentally bang into you."

With this advice, I left, with another appointment the following month to monitor the situation. When I arrived for the second appointment, I met another orthopedic doctor, as I was told that Prof. Dr. Dasday had retired. This doctor merely reviewed my reports, without doing any test, and said that I needed immediate surgery.

I was jobless then and with 3 orthopedic doctors saying the same thing, I had wanted to undergo the surgery and resolve the problem once and for all. My mother and my sister, however, were against the idea and advised me to follow Prof. Dr. Dasday's advice to delay the operation as long as possible, just in case something miraculous happened, or an alternative solution presents itself. In the meantime, they said they would help me out financially, if I require it.

Some 2 months later, another sister of mine told me to see an acupuncturist, after her colleague told her that she had a slip disc and was healed after one treatment. This colleague was washing clothes and when she stood up to lift the basin in order to pour away the water, she felt a sharp pain at her waist and could not walk after that.


Possible Causes of My Slip Disc

I first discovered that I had a slip disc when I went for a medical checkup, a compulsory requirement to enroll for my Master's degree program at the Asian Institute of Management in Makati, Philippines. The doctor said that I had failed my medical test because of that. He was worried that if something were to happen to me, while I was in Philippines, I would be in deep trouble. But I told him that I would be in deeper trouble if I could not take up the course. Moreover, I didn't even realize that I had a slip disc. The doctor said it was very amazing that I didn't feel any pain, given that my condition was real bad and my spine had curved so dramatically. In any case, the doctor said he would still need to reveal my slip disc condition in the medical report but added that he would remark that it was not a recent problem and that it didn't seem to cause me any problems so far. "Let the Institute make the final decision", he had said. The Institute accepted me.

I do not know the exact cause of my slip disc. I fell off a bicycle in my childhood days when going downhill and knocking against a fence. That could have been a possible cause, as I had lost my voice for a brief moment, after falling. But a more likely cause would be a masseuse falling off, while stepping on my back. I felt a pain on the left side of my waist which went off, a few days after I went to another masseuse to try to get it fixed.

Acupuncture and Lower Back Pain

Off to the Acupuncturist

I went to see the acupuncturist that was suggested by my sister. He told me that he had too many customers but would accept me, since he is the the only acupuncturist in town who could treat me. "How egoistic!", I thought to myself. He studied my CAT scan, but could not make head or tail out of it and advised me to take an X-ray instead.

I went to see the acupuncturist again, after my X-ray was taken. After studying it, he placed 3 needles on my intervertebral disc between L4 and L5 and then burned it with moxa, a process called "moxibustion". I told the acupuncturist that my pain was along my left leg and not on my spine. The acupuncturist said he knew but he won't be treating my left because that was not the symptom that was caused by what was happening to my L4-L5 intervertebral disc. In any case, I did not feel any noticeable improvement after my first visit. I was then told to come every alternate day to allow sufficient time for my intervertebral disc to heal, before the next treatment.

While I was undergoing treatment from this acupuncturist, I was also scouting for other acupuncturists in town, as I did not like the long wait of several hours before I could get a 20-minute treatment. (The acupuncturist did not have an assistant and appointments were by first-come-first serve basis where patients have to agree among themselves as to who came first.) Every acupuncturist had a different approach. Some placed as many as 10 needles along my left leg where the pain was, without a single needle on the spine. None worked.

When I became more acquainted with the first acupuncturist, he would sometimes talk to me about his experiences. It was then that he told me that the method he used to treat me was not based on acupuncture theory but was learned from a professor in Beijing. According to him, the concept is very simple: "You burn the intervertebral disc to make it smaller so that when the disc does not exert pressure on the nerve, the pain caused by your slip disc would disappear. It's as simple as that! Many think that I'm using acupuncture, merely because I use acupuncture needles," he had said.

The process, however, took 5 months of daily treatment (I had requested for daily treatment because I told the acupuncturist that recovery would be faster, since I could take it). I felt the numbness subside downwards from my knee to my ankle with each treatment. The feeling was as if I was standing in a bathtub, with the water being drained, i.e. the area (not the intensity) of my leg that was numb became less and less. And I projected that one day, the numbness would fall to the level of my sole and disappeared altogether. But that was not to be.

When the extent of my numbness reached my ankle and failed to go down any further, I decided to seek other means of treatment.


Off to the Physiotherapist

I went to the physiotherapist and did a few types of treatment, finally opting for only traction to cut cost (to the chagrin of the chief physiotherapist). With a self-determined 10 further treatments (I had refused medical supervision, also to cut cost), I did not see any noticeable improvement in my condition and would have given up after 3 treatments. However, since I had decided on 10 treatments, I decided to continue.

On the 7th treatment, something happened. I couldn't lie down flat, as my left leg hurt so much. I decided to twist my body until it didn't hurt. Since my bed was surrounded by curtains, the nurses did not see what I was doing, as I had been advised, time and again with each treatment, to keep my body straight at all time. After the 20 minutes treatment, I stood up and I was perfectly normal again. The numbness at my ankle miraculously disappeared!

An MRI scan of my slip disc relapse, taken on March 30, 2006
An MRI scan of my slip disc relapse, taken on March 30, 2006

Best Exercises for a Herniated Disc - Atlanta Chiropractor - Personal Injury Doctor Atlanta

A Relapse 9 Years Later

I had a relapse 9 years later, when a masseuse used her elbow to grind my left buttock. It was very painful and when I told her to stop, she told me that she felt something not quite right there and assured me that I would feel very much better, after she had set it right. Instead, I suffered a relapse of my slip disc and sciatica the next day.

I went back to the acupuncturist but after 3 months of treatment, I saw practically no improvement. I found another acupuncturist who could give me instant pain relief, the moment he placed his needle that would send an electric current to my sole. It was frightening but at the same time, I was very effective. However, he could not solve my slip disc problem but the sciatica would eventually disappear on its own, or so it seems.

I'm still feeling numbness on the outer edge of my left foot, but since I could live with it, I didn't seek further treatment. In any case, an orthopedic doctor did tell me that 9 years without a relapse was indeed a very excellent track record.

(P/S: While visiting YouTube to search for relevant videos for this hub, I discovered some alternative methods that may help heal my current numbness which, although not serious, I could do without. I'll try these method and hopefully, report good news!)

Chiropractic - A New Treatment for the Herniated Disc

Comments 20 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

I had the same thing happen back in 1989. I had it operated on and have never had a problem with it since. I am lucky!

It never occurred to me to try acupuncture. Very interesting read my friend. Thank you for sharing your experience.

WalterPoon profile image

WalterPoon 3 years ago from Malaysia Author

Billybuc, that colleague that I mentioned had the operation and was advised never to carry anything more than 5 kg. He cannot sit on the rear seat of a car and have to sit in front. Even so, he has to slide in, like a rigid doll. I'm happy to hear that you never had a problem after your operation. You are the first case I heard that has no problem. Some complained of backache in an aircon room because of the stainless steel plates supporting the spine. America must be great because here, we occasionally hear of "clipped nerves"... patients being paralyzed from the waist down, after an op. A Penang lawyer suffered a clipped nerve just prior to my slipped disc and my sister got very worried because of that.

travmaj profile image

travmaj 3 years ago from australia

That is a painful story - I hope all is going to plan now.

I have acupuncture when necessary and really like the treatment - it is recommended for many problems. I don't have anything like a slip disc - that is complex .

For stress relief or similar neuralgia etc, acupuncture. seems very favourable.

WalterPoon profile image

WalterPoon 3 years ago from Malaysia Author

Travmaj, thanks for dropping by. The thing I found about acupuncture is that different acupuncturist uses different styles. The average acupuncturist uses "textbook methods", while the really good ones have something more to offer, e.g. the one who could treat acute pain instantly is amazing. I went to so many others, but not even one can do like him. Painkiller jabs, on the other hand, are, for the most part, ineffective, when slip disc is concerned.

bdn9385 profile image

bdn9385 2 years ago

Try to drink - cell mineral drops (cmd) from the great salt lake of Utah. Just google it. And of course, prayer works, you know.

WalterPoon profile image

WalterPoon 2 years ago from Malaysia Author

Thank you, bdn9385. Are you from Utah? I don't know whether cmd and prayer works but I joined 3 sessions of qigong and "saw" the qi trying to push through a section of my lumbar vertebral column where the slip disc occurred. The slip disc caused some of my toes to curl up and the toe nails were grey and in bad health. My sister was amazed when she noticed my toes last Friday and told me that the nails are now in good shape. However, my toes were still curling up when she saw them but now, they have straightened (vertically)!!! Still slightly bent horizontally although the numbness in my left foot has reduced. Will report the progress to you, once the numbness disappears, hopefully after another few qigong sessions.

bdn9385 profile image

bdn9385 2 years ago

I am not from utah but have witnessed myself the miracle of this supplement. God work in a number of ways you know. You may try it if you have time. Try also this website. and download the 9 steps to perfect health. Thanks!

bdn9385 profile image

bdn9385 2 years ago

By the way the scripture says:

A joyful heart is the health of the body but a depressed spirit dries up the bones.

Pleasing words are a honeycomb sweet to the taste and healthful to the body.

Honor your father and mother that thy days may be long.

In addition i personally think that what prolong the life of a person is a strong sense of purpose. As long as you see yourself as someone who has purpose in life that needs to be delivered you will not die. Nobody can take your life away from you as long as you have that strong sense of needing it yet. It will only be taken away from you once you have given up to fight. Dying is inevitable but not until you were able to deliver the goods you were entrusted to do. Now too much desire towards earthly things make someone as good as he is dead. On the other hand too much desire for the well being of the others will transform you into a different person.

The power of prayer is such that if it is truly genuine, you can feel the strong vibrations within your body just like being electrecuted by small amount of electricity reenergizing your cells. If your heart is truly contrite then you have won half the battle. The rest depends on you. Thanks and God Bless! Recover soon...

WalterPoon profile image

WalterPoon 2 years ago from Malaysia Author

Bdn9385, well said!!! But where can I get Utah cmd in Malaysia, LOL. A strong sense of purpose... you are right. I have tried prayer but have yet to feel the strong vibrations within my body. Maybe one day, I will!

bdn9385 profile image

bdn9385 2 years ago

You did not google cmd yet. It can be bought in bottles anywhere in the world. Once you google it it explains itself so i need not explain to you how it works. I think it can help your cause. Also the chriskresser thing i told you will help a lot.

Now when you said maybe one day i will! That's good. Its called Hope. Pack Faith with it and you increase its power. Add Love to it and you just immortalized it. Now i have a simple tip for you on how to accelerate the power of your prayer. Pray not for your own good but for the good of your love ones. Eliminate yourself in the process no matter how hard your situation is. You pray not for yourself but for the wellness of people you care. You are so simple to not understand that God is already providing you what you just need to grow you into a person he wants to be. Until you are able to realize that God designed the nature to become altruistic and not egotistic you will never be able to sync with the great circle of life. You will never be able to truly live. Immortality is the object of humanity. How do you think that can be achieved? Now i just gave you an assignment. Lol!

WalterPoon profile image

WalterPoon 2 years ago from Malaysia Author

Ohhh, I thought you need to literally scoop the cmd from Utah!!! Okay, I got it and I will definitely give it a try. Thanks also for your great advice on prayer. I aspire not for immortality. Shih Huang Ti aspired for immortality but failed. If, by immortality, you mean that we still remember him, well, does it really matter when you are gone?

WalterPoon profile image

WalterPoon 2 years ago from Malaysia Author

Bdn9385, can you post the link to the 9 steps to perfect health?

bdn9385 profile image

bdn9385 2 years ago

I'll email you the pdf file post your mail account. I think you need to register something b4 you can download it. You might think im crazy but I mean immortality on it's most literal context. There is a prophecy that says man is gonna achieve it on the last days. But not all man. Only some few chosen well refined individuals who are worthy before God. Those who have overcome themselves and the wiles of the devil. Funny isn't? Lol. Funny indeed. But also amazing?! This is the gospel of Christ. Let's not argue over this one and let the jury of time test it. Lol...

WalterPoon profile image

WalterPoon 2 years ago from Malaysia Author

Bdn9385, thank you very much for taking the trouble. I appreciate your kindness. That cmd water... I didn't realize it cost a bomb for a bottle but I will give it a try. It's only through direct experience that one learns and becomes convinced. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

bdn9385 profile image

bdn9385 2 years ago

I believe this is the link to 9 steps to perfect health. This is also good reading. Sorry it took a while.


bdn9385 profile image

bdn9385 2 years ago

In case you cannot access the manually typed link above from my smartphone. Need to login to PC to accurately paste the link.


WalterPoon profile image

WalterPoon 2 years ago from Malaysia Author

Hi Bdn9385, thank you for taking the trouble to find the link. I will read it carefully and get back to you. Will be out of town tomorrow until end of the month.

CATHRINA 12 months ago

Hi sir! Are you from philippines? If so, could i get the information about your acupunturist? We really need help for my father's slipped disc. Thank you so much. :)

Gipson 2 months ago

you can ckeck the link to know the signs and symptoms if slipped disc

Kishore Punjabi 2 months ago

you are saying right because in pain we have to consult to doctor rather than avoiding. People will be inspired with your post. I doctor of chiropractic anyone suffering with joint pain,back pain and neck pain visit us.

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