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How to Thrive In the Modern World

Rick Burke

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"I had my first acupuncture wellness treatment about a month ago for the first time. When I arrived I wasn't sure what to expect, but Steve asked the right questions and made me feel confident in his ability from the start. Since this consultation and treatment, my outlook has been profoundly changed forever going forward. I left the appointment feeling like I was the most calm and in control of my life that I had been in many years, and I have been hanging on to that feeling every day since. The subsequent meetings have proved the first was not a fluke. It has inspired me to bring other Eastern experiences such as yoga and meditation into my life...things I have wanted to pursue for years but have not made the time to because I was always "too busy". It is evident to me that this is Steve's passion, and I am grateful I was fortunate to cross paths with him."

"I was born with a curvature of the spine (scoliosis) which did not cause me much trouble until I reached my late forties. At that juncture I began to experience considerable pain and I noticed, as well, that my lower back was becoming far more crooked and deformed. I consulted an orthopedist who sent me for physical therapy. Many sessions and home exercises later, and experiencing no relief, I tried chiropractic work. Again no relief and my problems were intensifying. Finally, in my mid-fifties and by then plagued with pain, I consulted an orthopedic surgeon who told me that surgery would be inevitable to prevent further deterioration of my spine and eventual confinement to a wheel chair. Obviously, I went for a second opinion (both surgeons were based in Manhattan and affiliated with the finest orthopedic hospitals) who confirmed what the first had told me. At the age of 57, I underwent the surgery.

The surgery was intensive, 8 hours on “the table”, requiring six blood transfusions, and four days in intensive care. I emerged, however, with a very straight back (no more deformity), including a lengthy titanium rod and multiple screws in my spine to show for it. Unfortunately, however, my pain is far from diminished although the locus of it is no longer where it was. It is now in my mid to upper back, rather than lower back, where the surgery was performed. I explained this to my surgeon who told me to seek physical therapy and pilates in order to strengthen my “core” muscles and that the pain would diminish as a result. Although three years “out” I still do this religiously, but it has had absolutely no impact whatsoever on my pain. As a result, my therapists and pilates trainers suggested acupuncture. They joke with me that I have a nicely toned body for my age so might as well keep coming to them, but ought to go elsewhere for pain relief.

However, being very “Western” oriented in my thinking, I scoffed somewhat at the thought of acupuncture, and went another orthopedic route first. I tried an orthopedic practice that I had not yet used. This one suggested steroid shots for my pain, and I went through a series of those in my middle and upper back, as well as my neck. Not one ounce of relief, although some money was relieved from my wallet.

Deciding that I had nothing to lose at that point, I searched on line for an acupuncturist and found Princeton Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. I went in with neither an open nor closed mind, but not really expecting acupuncture to help. The day I met Steve Hoffman, he impressed me as a quiet and thinking man who spent a lot of time with me, interviewing me extensively and carefully about my medical history and present situation and symptoms. He was very non-judgmental and I found that I could speak to him about a lot of issues in my life that were troubling me and probably contributing to a lot of muscle spasms in my back. Over time, I discovered him to be not only someone who knows his specific “trade” very well but a person of deep compassion and “soul” who can truly understand the complexity of issues that affect the body. He is now working with someone in my family who has terminal cancer and another who suffers from migraine headaches.

For my situation, he suggested weekly appointments to start, and each appointment lasts approximately one hour and 45 minutes. They are very painless and quite restful. The office is impeccably clean and comfortable with heat lamps and special blankets for warmth as needed. There is music of a relaxing nature playing quietly in the background.

To my amazement, over the course of a few months, this process has most definitely managed my pain in a way that none of the other modalities I have tried (surgery, physical therapy, pilates, steroid shots, or chiropractic adjustment) has. On a pain scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the high end, I would have placed my pain at 9-10 when I first started working with Steve, and now on a bad day, it is a “7” and most days if I have pain, it is between “2-4”. This, to me, is a major accomplishment. I continue to see Steve but have been able to reduce sessions from weekly to bi-weekly and less with the use of Chinese herbal teas which he prescribes. No one is more pleasantly surprised than I. As a result, I recommend Princeton Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine simply without reservation. It has, and continues, to change my life."

Sunny Greenburg

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