Last week I wrote about the multiple ways to address, relieve, or even eliminate back pain without surgery. I briefly mentioned one technique called Water Needling.

Water needling, also sometimes called acupoint injection is a technique by which fluid is injected using a syringe into an appropriate acupoint. In the US is it legal in some states and illegal in others. It is not as widely accepted by doctors or patients as acupuncture and therefore it is much less commonly used. Perhaps you may not have even heard of it.

However those practitioners who do use it find it significantly aids their treatment and greatly increases the time to recovery.

In the Americas, typically 0.5mL of filtered water or saline solution are injected in the points.

As with so much of CAM, each doctor has their own style and experience that they think is most effective.  In today’s clinical practice we saw an approach significantly different from the that discussed in US medical journals.

The patient had acute lumbar sprain to the point where the curve in the lower spine was flat. First, the doctor inserted standard acupuncture needles over local points and left the heat lamp on for about 50 minutes.  Then the doctor did cupping: 4 cups total, 2 on each side of the spine. Until this point, this was all standard treatment.

Then the doctor pulled out a syringe and 2 small bottles of decocted Angelica root (dang gui). Angelica root is a Chinese medicine herbal used to remove blood stasis and improve flow. He filled the syringe with the first bottle, totaling about 225mL. This is a huge amount compared to standard water needling (.5mL), such that my classmate who is a big fan of this technique was quite surprised. The doctor inserted the syringe and plunged that amount into the first acupoint (see picture). He repeated with another 225mL for the opposite side acupoint.

For me it was a quite fascinating learning experience as I’d never seen it done before. I also have no basis for comparison, nor do I know too much about this.  So please feel free to leave your own comments or experiences in the response section below.

The cupping marks are very distinct and fresh on his back. This conveys the extreme tension in his muscles there.