Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The problem with acupuncture acceptance...

Two posts in one day, it's a miracle!

I share a secretary, and she's recently developed carpal tunnel syndrome, although she says it's been coming on for years. I said she should get her workstation looked at, because I'm convinced her chair is wrong, her keyboard set up is wrong and her monitor is at the wrong height. She's very petite, and the standard-sized stuff just doesn't fit her. She didn't want to bother anyone, and anyway, our employer has been cost-cutting, so she was sure there was nothing that could be done. She didn't want the surgery. I pointed out that acu is supposed to be very good for carpal tunnel. She didn't want to do acu because she was scared of the pain of needles, although by this point, she was unable to sleep because of the terrible pain in her wrists.

Finally she said she'd give acu a try. She's now been 3 times. The acu thinks it might take 8 sessions to really help. In the meantime, I kept nagging her to ask about having someone come in to do an ergonomic assessment for her desk, because why fix the problem once and then go on aggravating it. She kept hemming and hawing. She told the office manager that it wasn't such a big issue.

Then this weekend she spoke to a nurse at a nursing home where she was visiting, who spotted the wrist brace, and told her about her own carpal tunnel surgery, which was outpatient and such a relief and all that. Super easy! So now my secretary wants to quit acu because she has to pay for it, as it's not covered by insurance, and go and have the surgery instead as that will be covered by the insurance. Aargh! Is it just me that thinks it's ridiculous to put yourself through surgery when something natural and non-invasive is already helping and could help longer term? Just because you don't want to pay for it? And how much would she have to pay in co-pays for the surgery and the drugs she'd need to take? Is surgery really easier than acupuncture? And even if our employer is cost-cutting, surely it's cheaper for them to buy a new damn chair than pay for surgery?

After hearing this new plan of hers, I've stopped nagging her to ask for an ergonomic assessment, and just gone over her head and demanded one. It's already been agreed to, and is going to go ahead soon. Oy. I just hope that will help so she can avoid surgery, which I'm sure is not quick and super easy for everybody.

4 comments:

katedaphne said...

Hi Sarah! Haven't commented in a while but I've been here lurking away....

The thing about carpal surgery is it IS easy. It's a one-time deal and you are fixed forever, as evidenced by my mom, who had the surgery about 20 years ago. And I am sure techniques, etc., have improved since then, too. I can't believe acu would ever truly fix the problem forever. And I say that as a huge fan of acu....

My dh has carpal and the surgery has been recommended for him. We are just trying to find a good tiem for him to have it. The recovery takes about a week in a sling we are told, tho we are expecting maybe two weeks in the sling...

Good for you for ordering the ergonomic check. That's something every responsible supervisor should do. A new chair will surely cost your company less than it will lose in lost productivity and absenteeism. (I doubt the surgery will cost it anything extra, it is already contracted to the insurer.)

Just my two cents.
(and sorry about the peanut incident in previous post. i'd have sent it back.)

xo k

Hedgetoad said...

According to my last HR person, if a doctor writes a note stating that the wrong set up is contributing to the medical issue, the employer has to change it - budget cuts or not. Not sure if that is your state or not, but it's something.

Also, I've used acu for my carpal tunnel and it relieved the pain for several years after just a few visits. Then I moved to a very rural area and took up knitting, so the carpal tunnel returned. A few months of physical therapy (which most insurance companies want done before surgery) and no more knitting, I'm back to normal.

I'd rather not have surgery as my luck would run to major complications or at least being infected with one of those flesh eating bacterias.

Almamay said...

It's along the same lines as why people get stomach bypasses or bands instead of sticking to a healthy diet and exercising. I'm with you, why would anybody have surgery when there is an alternative? It's crazy.

Care said...

I have to admit, I've never been to an acu...but in many things, I definately see the value in trying the least invasive approach before signing up for surgery. (Though I will agree with the previous comment that the people I know who have had the surgery generally have complete and permanent relief and are very glad to have done it.)