UMC Offers Time-tested Therapy for Pain Management
A new acupuncture clinic at UMC is helping to make the ancient Chinese medicine technique less secretive than Calgon.
Dr. Aena Han Payne, assistant professor of anesthesiology and director of the acupuncture clinic, was initially trained in pediatric medicine at the University of Texas-Southwestern Medical School in Dallas and practiced at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston for 10 years. She said the 3,000-year-old method of sticking long, thin needles into the skin to relieve pain and balance energy does much more than turn patients into human pincushions – it actually assists in their rehabilitation.
“Acupuncture can be used to alleviate a vast array of health issues, from simple headaches to more complicated medical and neurological problems,” said Payne, who trained in medical acupuncture at the University of California at Los Angeles before joining the anesthesiology program at UMC.
“Acupuncture can’t fix everything, but it can be an adjunctive with Western medicine. Sometimes Western medicine has a limit to what it can do for a patient, and acupuncture can be that alternative choice.”
Dr. Claude Brunson, professor and chairman of anesthesiology, said the clinic offers the highest standard of alternative pain therapy and medical care.
“Dr. Payne brings to the Department of Anesthesiology, the Medical Center and its patients expertise in the world’s oldest discipline in medicine,” Brunson said. “She completes the modalities of pain management that we can offer to our patients who seek care for acute and chronic pain ailments.
“Dr. Payne has impeccable training in this area of pain management, and in fact, has family ties that date back many generations in the practice of acupuncture.”
Throughout her teenage years in Korea, Payne’s grandmother performed acupuncture treatments on her. It wasn’t until she suffered a low back ailment several years later that Payne considered practicing acupuncture herself.
“I was having complications after the back surgery, and no medical subspecialist could give me an answer why,” she recalled. “I began having doubts about Western medicine, so I started looking for alternatives.
“A nurse gave me a pamphlet on acupuncture, and I remembered that I had a previous experience with acupuncture in Korea. After practicing pediatrics for more than 10 years, I became more interested in this new field of medicine. That’s when I began to seriously study acupuncture.”
Practiced worldwide, acupuncture is a system of medicine based upon principles of homeostatis, or a stable state of equilibrium between interdependent elements of the body. Very fine needles are placed in the skin at specific locations and in patterns that augment the body’s natural healing energy, known as Qi (pronounced chee). The needles may be connected to an electrical device for stimulation or may be manipulated by a physician. Integrated into medical practice, medical acupuncture fuses Western concepts of correcting pathophysiology and Eastern concepts of restoring Qi to produce a successful hybrid modality.
Recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1997 as having a potential benefit for a diverse group of medical disorders, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the body’s natural healing process and promote physical well-being. More research is being conducted to explain the various effects of acupuncture treatment, in addition to endorphin production. Already, many patients suffering from infertility, arthritis, fibromyalgia, neuralgia, mild depression and internal medicine diseases have turned to acupuncture as an alternative.
Although acupuncture patients are warned that treatments can cause localized pain, bruising, brief syncope, “needle shock,” nerve damage or collapsed lung, Payne states acupuncture is very safe compared to Western procedures and the benefits of the discipline exceed its risks.
“The good thing about acupuncture is that it brings about a harmonization with the body; it allows you to resolve your own problems within yourself,” Payne said. “It’s more affordable than traditional Western medicine, and it’s being used all over the world for a long time with known consistent benefits.”
Patients who visit Payne usually recognize the possible side effects of acupuncture, but for most, like Lawrence Heintz, the results outweigh the risks. During a fishing trip near the Gulf of Mexico last year, Heintz was struck in the chest by a bolt of lightening. After being resuscitated at the scene and spending two weeks in the hospital, he was left with residual pain that kept him from being able to walk normally.
A physician in a lightening strike and electric shock support group suggested he consider acupuncture as a means of alleviating his pain. An anesthesiologist at the Medical Center introduced him to Payne.
“My doctors had treated me with Botox injections to help stop muscle spasms, but they weakened my neck muscles so much that I had trouble holding my head up,” Heintz said. “After my very first acupuncture treatment, everybody said they could notice a remarkable difference. I noticed an immediate improvement in my balance. That first treatment relaxed all those muscles to the point that I was able to hold my head up high.”
After five acupuncture sessions, Heintz showed such remarkable improvement that Payne scaled back his treatments to twice a month and reduced his daily pain medication.
When his daughter gets married later this month, Heintz will be able to enjoy a special treat. “My wife says that, if nothing else, I’ll be able to stand up straight when I give my daughter away,” he said. “I’m real pleased with the treatment I have received from Dr. Payne.”
Payne not only uses acupuncture to relieve the suffering of others, but she practices what she preaches on her own family. Her husband, Dr. John Payne, a cardiologist at UMC, and her two children, Nathan and Natalie, have all felt the prick of her acupuncture needles whenever they felt a little under the weather.
“My daughter recently sprained her ankle at school,” Payne said. “I put the needles in, and the ankle didn’t even swell, even if she had to limp for awhile. Acupuncture works very well, even in many areas you don’t commonly think about, such as acute, simple-to-moderate injuries of burn, abrasions, cellulitis and post-dental extraction pain.”
Although she concentrates on rehabilitation patients, Payne said she would like the clinic to expand into pediatrics and internal medicine disease therapy. With the popularity of acupuncture on the rise, it may not take long before it encompasses those areas at UMC.
“Dr. Payne has already begun receiving numerous calls and consultations from patients and physicians interested in accessing her clinic,” Brunson said, “and we envision that her clinic will continue to grow and eventually offer services to pediatric patients.”
For more information about the acupuncture clinic at UMC or to schedule an appointment, call Payne at (601) 984-5900 or visit the anesthesiology Web site (www.anesthesiology.umc.edu).
–Bruce Coleman (8/18/03)
2003-08-18 00:00:00 2424
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