I’ve previously discussed that I’ve been struggling badly with pain in both knees for months. Out of desperation, I turned to acupuncture, just to try anything to feel better. What? You expected something else?

Don’t worry. While I have been doing acupuncture once a week, I have also been seeing my orthopedic surgeon as needed and started physical therapy twice a week. I hurt my knees in July and the pain hasn’t gone away since then. In fact, my knee pain has gotten worse and it’s pretty constant.

Someone suggested acupuncture as a great solution. I had considered it previously and, against my initial reaction, made an appointment. A day before the appointment arrived, I cancelled. It sounded too hokey and like pseudo-science. A period of time went by and I eventually relented. I had nothing to lose. I did some research and found that my insurance would cover 24 sessions per year (oddly enough they don’t cover any massages, which I would much rather).

I called the acupuncturist and made an appointment. It was conveniently located a short drive from my apartment, though in an area of town I hadn’t ventured into. I hadn’t ventured into this area because it was a bit of a shady area. I pulled up to a run down looking apartment and was already annoyed at the fact that the appointment was going to be held in this dump.

I waited what seemed like a long time for the old elevator to arrive and take me to the floor I needed. I walked down the poorly lit hallway until I reached the nondescript door and knocked. Nothing happened. I knocked a few times before I called the acupuncturist.

“Oh? That’s my old office. My new address is in another area.” Figures. It wasn’t much farther, but it eliminated the convenience of distance, which was the only reason I opted to go here. The new address was in a much nicer part of town, which I hadn’t explored either. I was glad I did.


I walked down the narrow hallway and met with the acupuncturist. He asked me a ton of probing questions as he scribbled on a piece of paper. I tried to make out what he wrote, but it was either horrible hand writing or it was just gibberish to pretend he was writing.


After all that, I was laying on a table face up. I was interested at the fact that at some point in time the acupuncturist squeezed an area of high pain and then inserted a needle elsewhere. He then squeezed the same location and there was no pain. I was particularly fascinated. Most of the needles didn’t hurt when they were placed on different parts of my body. A couple of them did. He then placed some type of heating tube in different areas where the needles were. The heat didn’t register with the same intensity in all locations. I didn’t know if it was due to the heat not being constant or if it was something physical.


Once the process concluded, I felt weird. I wondered if perhaps the needle insertion didn’t register in my mind, but my body was responding to it? Either way, the pain returns practically immediately. I now have done several sessions, perhaps 4 and I still feel the same amount of pain. The last session had the acupuncturist try to do a “different” type of whatever he was doing. I feel comfortable saying that was my last session and that acupuncture is simply based on a placebo effect.


I started doing a bit of research regarding acupuncture for this blog post and ran into a few interesting things. For example:

Of course it works! That’s why it’s Chinese medicine that been around for thousands of years.
“Actually: This treatment is not so ancient and may not even be Chinese. From studying the earliest documents, Chinese scholar Paul Unschuld suspects the idea may have originated with the Greek Hippocrates of Cos and later spread to China. There’s certainly no evidence that it’s 3000 years old. The earliest Chinese medical texts, from the 3rd century BC, don’t mention it. The earliest reference to “needling” is from 90 BC, but it refers to bloodletting and lancing abscesses with large needles or lancets. There is nothing in those documents to suggest anything like today’s acupuncture. We have the archaeological evidence of needles from that era – they are large; the technology for manufacturing thin steel needles appropriate for acupuncture didn’t exist until 400 years ago.

You can read all about that bunk here, but I’ll give you a few bullet points:

  • There were originally 360 acupuncture points (based on the number of days of the year rather than on anatomy).
  • Currently more than 2000 acupuncture points have been “discovered” leading one wag to comment that there was no skin left that was not an acupuncture point.
  • There were either 9, 10, or 11 meridians – take your pick. Any number is as good as another, because no research has ever been able to document the existence of acupuncture points or meridians or qi.
  • Does acupuncture work? Which acupuncture, and what do you mean by work? There are various different Chinese systems, plus Japanese, Thai, Korean and Indian modalities, most of which have been invented over the last few decades. Whole body or limited to the scalp, hand, ear, foot, or cheek and chin. Deep or superficial. With electrified needles. With lasers. With dermal pad electrodes and no skin penetration.
  • Studies have shown that acupuncture releases natural opioid pain relievers in the brain: endorphins. Veterinarians have pointed out that loading a horse into a trailer or throwing a stick for a dog also releases endorphins. Probably hitting yourself on the thumb with a hammer would release endorphins too, and it would take your mind off your headache.


More so than just a placebo effect, I think that this entire thing is essentially nothing more than a good old fashioned snake oil salesman. And that’s how another man poked me.

  1. infinitymadness2 says:

    Yikes! I’ve always wanted to try acupuncture but too chicken shit to try it LOL
    I had some knee issues too – actually when I would do some physical activity for a few days, the pain would start, be so unbearable I would not be able to bend my knee in bed. If I did bend it, I would struggle to straighten it, ever so slowly.
    have you ever heard of Thrive? I started using it recently and it has done wonders on me, not only my knee (haven’t felt the pain since starting) but also on my mental clarity and energy levels.

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