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Monday, January 9, 2012

And Then He Touched Me: Traditional Medicine For Overuse Injury

In Taiwan we are lucky to have access to two parallel streams of healthcare. We have the traditional system of hospitals and clinics where white coated doctors wear reflectors on their foreheads and prescribe an attack of pills that often resembles a pack of Skittles.

Then we have traditional herbalists.

Both are covered under Taiwan's National Health Insurance program; a single payer system that covers every citizen, their dependents, and every registered worker in Taiwan.

After a host of overuse injuries and too much time off the bike, I was referred to an herbalist in Changhua. This herbalist is also an accomplished rider, so I was encouraged to feel he might be a little more understanding of my situation and of my injury.

I walked in, filled out my registration form, and within 10 minutes I was sitting with the doctor discussing my problem.

He massaged my knee with a perplexed look on his face, and then asked me to stretch out on the massage bed.

"A-ha!" he exclaimed with delight as he lightly patted my spine, "Your muscles in your back are creating an imbalance that is affecting your knee."

Apparently, my riding has developed an imbalance that pulled my bones out of alignment and resulted in an aggravated sciatic nerve.

The doctor pushed and pulled like he was realigning a bent frame.

I stood up and I felt amazing. The tightness in my back was gone. My knee felt better. My hip was loose.

I climbed some stairs and knelt without any sensations in my leg.

The whole procedure took about 10min. after a slathering of traditional goo-cream pads.

If you are having trouble with overuse or pain from cycling, I would totally recommend this guy.

The visit cost me a mere NT 150 (USD$5) with my insurance.

If you decide to go, be sure you or someone you are with, can speak Chinese or Taiwanese. I do not think anyone there can speak English.

Dr. Wu Chiu-Shiong
No.256-1 Chang-nan Rd.
Changhua City, Taiwan