Back pain clip

I put a stop to that right that right away! No boy! I was not going to tolerate that kind of talk in my office. Listen for yourself how this all went down:

This delightful retired hairdresser had returned after a long fruitful career in England. However, despite various treatments at home or abroad, she continued to struggle with disabling back pain for years. Based on accounts from Dominica News Online and word of mouth, she had come to us as a last resort.

She improved so much she was able to engage in her beloved gardening again as well as venture behind the wheel. Next, she asked my permission to take on the illustrious Grandbay road. The following visit, she was simply effusive and eager to share for the record. As you know, that southern main road is perhaps the most physical on our mountainous Nature Isle. Sharp twists and turns combined with precipitous ups and downs challenge the ablest of drivers. The rest, as they say, is history.

In my 2007 book, Mannafast Miracle, I detailed the experience of double Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter James Reston of the New York Times. While covering President Nixon’s historic trip to China in 1971, he underwent emergency appendectomy at the Anti-Imperialist Hospital in Beijing. According to Wikipedia, his post-operative pain was controlled acupuncture anesthesia. (I’ll tell you right now I’m not that good – so thank God for Dr. St. Luce!) Suffice it to say, upon his return Stateside, Mr. Reston wrote up a huge spread in arguably the world’s leading newspaper regarding this mysteriously effective ancient medical art. He explained that this placing of needles at specific points into the body was not in any way to be confused with voodoo. As to his credibility, Reston would later become the distinguished editor of the Times. The US Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health investigated his claims and approved acupuncture as an insurance-covered benefit.

There are many other effective ways of treating back pain, the main modalities being physiotherapy, massage, chiropractic and surgery. I really got interested in acupuncture when neurosurgeon consultants began suggesting that I should instead consider acupuncture for complicated spinal patients I had referred. I found it curious that they very eager to operate on the easier patients did not want to touch the harder cases.

I really wanted to study acupuncture in China, but San Francisco turned out to be more convenient. At the beginning of that post-graduate training, it was hilarious to watch hundreds of other doctors cringe like the average patient, when the needles were pointed in their direction. However, they quickly got over it when they saw how tiny and relatively painless the needles were.

Black back painI completely identify with patients suffering with back pain (lumbago). It is indeed one of the most common medical complaints and reason for sick leave worldwide. Our backs will no doubt bother most of us at some point in time. It is worse when it begins to radiate to the buttock then down the leg (sciatica).

I once had a magnificent magnolia tree on my front lawn in Ohio. It was zapped by lighting and some time later, was blown over in a winter storm. For years, I mowed around the rotting tree stump. One day I came home from work and just decided that old stump got to go! I tackled it vigorously with a pickaxe for hours. I had no idea how extensive the root system was!It was close to midnight when Itriumphantly declared mission accomplished. I devoured dinner washed down with fruit juice and slept like a baby.

When I woke up next morning I was stiff as a board. The back pain was so severe;it took me 5 minutes to put on my underwear!“Mwehfini bat!” I lamented. I felt useless. I pictured myself able neither to work norfulfill husbandly duties. I crawled to my office and gave myself some acupuncture. It was awkward, but I managed. And it worked beyond my wildest expectations! I have never looked back since.

Painless needlesWhether from trauma, strain and sporting injury, back pain has and will always be with us. In the elderly, when complicated by slipped discs and extensive arthritis, we do not expect complete recovery. However, for the young and middle-aged, we routinely see impressive results. All are improved to the extent that those overseas can place confidence in care rendered here.

Just to be clear, my patient did not actually say, “I don’t need my husband.” She was actually mortified at my feeble attempt at humour. Seriously, corporal acts of mercy by husbands, wives, other loved ones and caretakers will always be needed to ease life’s journey. None of us are here forever and sickness will be no stranger to our households. But by the grace of God, we can always minimize physical suffering though all means necessary. Never ever give up on healing or settle for any pain, until you have tried acupuncture.


Dr. Sam Christian is a syndicated columnist focusing on health and related development issues.’ You can contact Dr. Christian at (767) 440-9133 or by logging on to