Q: I had my second acupuncture session 4 days ago and just wanted to check if my symptoms were anything to be concerned about. I've suffered from ME for a number of years but have largely recovered and thought that acupuncture may help improve my health to its former level . The practitioner took this into account and gave me a gentle treatment. Although i couldn't get out of bed for 5 days a few of my symptoms seemed a little improved after this time. The second treatment, much gentler again, has had a very similar reaction but it's been accompanied by a deep painful ache down both legs. Is this part of the healing crisis i was warned about?

A:  We tend not to like the words 'healing crisis' because they do tend to be used of more outcomes than is reasonable. We are always confident that the more unusual apparent outcomes of treatment are not usually causally related because we are familiar with the range of possible adverse effects (rare in themselves) and they tend to be transient. Out main concern is that on occasion we have dealt with queries where the adverse effect was clearly nothing to do with the treatment but the belief that it was was delaying positive action to deal with it.

That said, ME and related long term health problems can generate some very odd symptoms when they start to resolve. From a Chinese medicine perspective the flow of energy is usually heavily compromised by these conditions. One consequence is that blockages in the system which would be obvious in someone in good health are hidden because the energetic flow is so weak they do not cause problems. Once the flow is starting to return to its proper levels symptoms of the blockage start to appear. We have also seen patients learn to move in a rather more restricted way when they are troubled by ME, and returning to better health can sometimes cause muscles to stretch properly again.

However, deep painful aches in the legs are always worth investigating sooner rather than later, so the first thing to do would be to contact the practitioner, explain the situation and if time and energy permit to go along to their clinic to see what sense they make of it. There may well be energetic reasons which they can find and which they can correct, or at very least put your mind at rest. If nothing is apparent, then you are best advised to pop along to your GP and ask their advice too. 

We are very heartened that the practitioner used very gentle techniques, so we are fairly sure that this means what you are suffering does not have a mechanical cause. However, the post-ME constitution is very delicate, in our experience,and setbacks are frequent even years after an apparent full recovery. Hopefully you will be on a continuing upward path soon.  

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