“So how exactly does acupuncture work?” the medical student asked me. I was carefully placing needles in a patient to treat knee pain at The Rusk Institute of Rehabilitative Medicine. The question, often asked, is challenging enough given an hour or so of time. When reduced to a sound bite, it goes something like this: “Chinese Medicine is based on theories which have not been proven, but it is the oldest and most used medicine on the planet.” I added that it often helps in situations in which conventional medicine leaves the patient with the option of taking drugs or giving up beloved activities.
It has been an extraordinary opportunity to work at the Rusk Institute for the last five months. I have used my acupuncture skills to treat chronic and acute pain. Dr. Alex Moroz, M.D. and licensed acupuncturist, guides the program in which medical students and residents observe his work in addition to this interface between eastern and western medicine.
On my one day there each week, I have treated a diverse group of people with musculoskeletal issues ranging from acute trauma to chronic pain. There was no time to explain the three theories upon which Chinese Medicine is based. Most students seemed genuinely interested in my work as was I was in observing the protocols of western medicine. By learning more about each other’s radically different perspectives on health, we build the communication that will change the face of healthcare, save tons of money, and give many people their ‘lives’ back. Open minds, the willingness to work together, and programs in popular western facilities like Rusk will, given time, make this a reality Acupuncture and Western medicine blend together quite wonderfully, if not always seamlessly.
It is good to have been a small part in trying to bring complementary medicine into mainstream healthcare. Hopefully, the value of Eastern medicine will be recognized generously into the covered expenses of the Affordable Care Act. After all, acupuncture is best known for its preventative characteristics, as diseases are recognized and treated before they become full blown. To the future!