Acupuncture for Fracture Recovery

"I was a non-believer in this crazy thing called Acupuncture.

I had a sports injury that aggravated some tendonitis in the arch of my foot. After seeing a podiatrist and receiving a cortisone shot and STILL having a lot pain, I figured “what could it hurt to at least try Acupuncture”. I must admit, I was a bit nervous and had many questions, but I kept an open mind. The very talented and knowledgeable Robert Crane, took the time to explain everything to me and answered ALL of my questions and I had a lot of questions and curiosities!

This is going to sound crazy, but after this first session, the pain was not only gone, it also hasn’t resurfaced since this first acupuncture appointment. That was approximately six months ago.

Now, I wish for my sake that was the end of my story, but I have more to say about this ancient Chinese medicine approach they call Acupuncture.

After I was completely “healed” from the tendonitis and was back to my normal exercise routine, one fateful early morning at the gym I had an incident with the Bosu ball. I turned my foot/ankle on it and ended up at the ER getting x-
rays. It turned out that I fractured a bone in my foot and was told by a new sports medicine specialist that I would have to be in a walking boot (cam walker) 24/7 for at least FOUR months and at that time would determine if surgery would be necessary. The area of my foot where the fracture occurred does not get a lot of blood flow and that is the reason for the lengthy recovery. I was naturally disappointed as I knew I would be on the sidelines for all of these months, but I remained hopeful and determined to avoid surgery if I could. I asked my doctor if she thought that Acupuncture may help. She agreed that it could possibly assist in my recovery as the blood flow to that area would increase with acupuncture. After the success story with my tendonitis, I called up Robert immediately to announce that he would now have a new focus for his needles.

At my one month check-up she could not believe my rate of recovery, she said if things progress as they are I would not only avoid surgery, but also be healed in the next month. I was diligent with my weekly acupuncture appointments throughout this entire time. Two months to the date of this injury I had my follow up appointment with my doctor. She was amazed by the results and I was amazed with the results! I was completely healed!! I cut my recovery time in half and I absolutely attribute it to the acupuncture that I received from Robert Crane! He is amazing! I wanted to share my story with everyone as I have been converted to the often unexplainable amazing “healing powers” that acupuncture provided me. I want to jump up and down and shout it from the rooftops, but I’m not as coordinated as perhaps I think I am.

One final note – the Bosu ball and I are still at odds."

-Maria P.

"Does Acupuncture Hurt?"

Visit almost any acupuncturist’s website and you will likely find this question in the FAQ section. It is an important question that people genuinely want to know the answer to. Naturally, it does not seem logical that forcing stainless steel into muscle bodies would be a painless experience, let alone a relaxing one! The provided response on these websites is almost equally ubiquitous: “No”. It is usually followed by a brief description of what sensations one might experience during the treatment, but it is a safe bet that the first word will be “No”. The problem with this, as I see it, is that the experience of pain is a very subjective thing, and what one patient calls “pain” another might call “heaviness”. Before we can begin to answer whether acupuncture hurts, we have to define “hurt”. And that becomes a conversation much too complex for a website. I would like to use this article to answer a more accessible question, one that is relatively objective: What does acupuncture feel like?


There are many different styles of acupuncture, utilizing many different kinds of techniques. Japanese acupuncture, for example, is very gentle and generally does not aim to elicit an immediate reaction at the site of the needle. In contrast, modern day Chinese hospitals espouse a type of acupuncture that seeks out a noticeable response from each needle inserted, which is interpreted into feedback about how the body will respond to that acupoint and the treatment overall. This technique is called de qi (得气), or “obtaining qi”, and is integral to many different styles of acupuncture. Multiple factors, including the specific point as well as depth, angle, and stimulation of needling, have an influence on how a person will experience the qi sensation. While the experience can vary from person to person, de qi will typically feel one of four ways:

  • Distended (胀 – zhàng) – This is probably the most common form of qi sensation. Usually obtained at larger muscle bodies, this form of de qi reaction is often described as an achey, swollen feeling. It is both full and deep. You might notice this sensation when your acupuncturist needles Large Intestine 4, the point on the back of your hand between the thumb and index finger.
  • Sore (酸 – suān) – This soreness is the same kind of feeling you get from a deep tissue massage, just without the heavy pressure. It feels similar to the distending sensation mentioned above. Where distention feels full and swollen, however, soreness spreads along the surface. There is a point at the center of your shoulder blade that will exemplify this sensation with mere finger pressure.
  • Heavy (重 – zhòng) – The heaviness of de qi is not quite as obvious as the previous two. It feels more like a pulling at the point, rather than achey or sore. In this case, the acupuncturist can often feel this sensation at the other end, like the muscle is pulling on the needle. Spleen 9 is a point on the inside of the leg just below the knee where a strong heavy sensation is often experienced.
  • Numb/Tingling (麻 – má) – This response, while not very common, is important to note as it can be both startling to the patient and beneficial to treatment outcomes. The tingling sensation is often described as a “zing” or “lightning”. This is actually a reaction from the needle touching the outer coating of a nerve. This technique can be very effective and is used for conditions like neuropathy, paralysis, sciatica, and even back pain. Accessing a point called Pericardium 6 on the inside of the wrist can evoke this kind of response when needled with that intention.

In China, the term for pain, tòng (痛), is used when patients experience a sensation that is not related to de qi. This kind of pain can be a sharp, pinching, intense, and altogether uncomfortable. Unlike pain, the sensations associated with de qi indicate a part of the healing response present in the acupuncture treatment. It is much like the way we speak of a “good hurt” when getting a massage. It should be noted, with the variety of styles of acupuncture practiced, positive treatment results are not necessarily dependent on this sensation of de qi. Treatment outcomes react differently to various approaches based on the condition being treated, the practitioner’s skill set, and the patient themselves. In order to get the best results from your acupuncture treatments, be sure to communicate with your acupuncturist about what you are experiencing during the treatment and try to train your mind to notice these different sensations. The more you take note of it, the more you strengthen the connection between your mind and your body.