Acupuncture worth trying for facial nerve pain
Nick Papas was coasting toward his 80th birthday without ever experiencing a sick day in his life. "I've never had a cold, a headache, never been hospitalized, nothing," says Nick. "Until last year."
Then seemingly out of the blue, Nick began feeling sharp pains in his face shooting from his upper lip to his right eye. "It felt like electric shocks, over and over and over," says Nick. "It was such big pain, it was unbearable."
Since the problem originated close to a tooth where Nick had recently had dental work, he first turned to his dentist for help. "She took X-rays and couldn't find anything wrong," says Nick. She prescribed antibiotics thinking that there might be an infection but the problem just kept getting worse, sending Nick on a series of visits to other dentists and doctors. Finally, on a CT scan ordered by a neurologist, Nick was diagnosed with "trigeminal neuralgia," a facial nerve pain disorder.
Trigeminal neuralgia most frequently occurs in people over age 40. Women are affected more often than men, and in almost all cases, pain is restricted to one side of the face. Most of the time, doctors cannot identify any disease of the trigeminal nerve or the central nervous system. Rarely, the condition is caused by an underlying problem, such as a brain tumor, vascular problem or aneurysm. In Nick's case, the problem was "just there."
"All the doctors and dentists agreed that nothing specific was causing it, but that sure didn't help me live with it," says Nick. "I couldn't eat, brush my teeth or shave without pain. In the morning, I would pour milk in my cereal 15 minutes before eating to soften it. Some days, I ate every meal with an ice bag next to my plate. The pain was so bad, I would cry."
After months of trying to cope, not only with the pain, but with the side effects of pain medication prescribed by his doctor, Nick decided to follow a suggestion from his son and made an appointment with Bo Kui Feng, a licensed acupuncturist at the Aurora Health Center in Waukesha. Now one year later, Nick says, "It was the best decision I ever made."
Bo Kui Feng brings years of clinical experience from China. He explains the etiology of Nick's problem: "There are 3 ways that a person can contract this disease. Typically, it is caused by the obstruction of circulation of qi and blood in the meridians and collaterals on the face due to invasion of pathogenic wind and cold."
While there are a lot of terms in this explanation, "pathogenic cold" comes and stays in the meridians and this impedes and slows down the circulation. If it lodges outside the vessel, the blood supply is decreased, and if it remains in the vessels, the passage or qi is obstructed, resulting in a sudden attack of pain.
There are 14 meridians (or pathways) in the body and 365 acupuncture points along these meridians, Bo Kui Feng explains. All meridians conduct energy called "qi" (pronounced "chee"). It is believed that when qi is blocked or blood supply decreased because of pathogenic cold or wind, pain or illness results. Bo Kui Feng applied this discipline to the treatment of Nick's facial nerve pain.
"Removing the blockage allowed Nick's qi to move freely throughout the body restoring his health," says Bo Kui Feng.
"The first 2 sessions didn't do much," Nick recalls. "But on the 3rd visit, it was a miracle. There was an improvement of 75 to 80%. After the 4th visit, I improved to 90 or 95%. And as of today, I am 100%!"
After 6 weeks of being pain free, Nick returned to Bo Kui Feng when he began to experience what he describes as a little twitch.
"I was afraid the pain might be coming back and wanted to get it taken care of before it could turn into anything big. Within a couple of sessions, I was fine.
"And life is good again," says Nick, "I can never thank Bo Kui Feng enough for his marvelous work. My wife thanks him, my children thank him and I thank him. I am myself once more."
For more information or to schedule an appointment with Bo Kui Feng, LAc Acupuncture Specialist, at the Aurora Health Center in Waukesha, please call (262) 896-6000 or at Aurora Wiselives Center in Wauwatosa, call (414) 302-3800.