Q. My Father has a bulging disc in his neck which is pushing against his nerve, which in turn causes him pain down his shoulder and arm when the weather is cold. It's caused his arm to be extremely weak.
Tests have proven nothing wrong with his nerves but its a few discs which are pushing against the nerve causing the problem. Doctors have suggested surgery to replace the discs.
I was wondering if Acupunture is a feasible alternative to surgery? Can you please advise?
A. This is a very difficult question to answer. Generally speaking, when there is a physical change in the structure of the body, it would be foolish to suggest without qualification that acupuncture can correct it. The neck, in particular, is an area where structural changes through wear and tear as someone gets older are very difficult to treat. That said, acupuncture may be able to reduce to an extent any inflammation which is associated with the bulging disc.
In the case of sciatica, for example, which is sometimes caused by a similar problem in the lower spine, there is some evidence that acupuncture may reduce inflammation, as we point out in our fact sheet here
However, it is quite likely, if the doctors are proposing surgery, that things have gone a bit further, and the structural changes may well continue to cause inflammation, even if acupuncture treatment provided some relief in the short term. It would probably not be wise, therefore, to consider acupuncture as an alternative to surgery.
Chinese medicine treats the person, not the disease, however, and regards each person's patterns of energy as unique and different. There may be some merit in seeking advice from one of our members tocal to you who can perhaps see your father and assess whether in his case there is greater reason to feel that acupuncture may provide positive help.