Test Pilot Journey: Seattle VA Pain Clinic Dry Needling

By: Monty Reed  –  Originally posted 9/14/2009 Re-posted October 4, 2010

Test Pilot Journey Monty Reed: Seattle VA Pain Clinic Dry Needling July 26, 2009

If this is an emergency call 911

Contact Your Doctor at the VA (Veterans Administration Medical Center) and ask for a referral to the Pain Clinic, in Seattle (206) 762-1010.  You need to get a referral from your doctor to get into the pain clinic and the “Dry Needling” Treatment Program.

I had been in for “Dry Needling” seven times already.  Usually the treatment would make a difference.  Sometimes there was a reduction in pain in some areas and an increase in others.  So far the overall change was good.  Including the increase and decreases in pain, there was an overall decrease in Pain.

This time I came early.  My pain level in my left leg was 8 out of ten.  In my neck the pain was 7 out of ten.  My T spine (Thoracic Spine) was a 6 out of ten, the Lumbar was at a 3.
Cervical (C or Neck)     = 7
Thoracic (T)                    = 6
Lumbar (L)                      = 3
Legs (Sciatica)                = 8

I try to think about the pain levels and write them down before and after the treatment to see what the difference is and of course if a particular treatment or combination of treatments is working.

The pain scale is from 0-10.  0 is no pain and 10 is pain so bad you scream and want to die.  When you get into pain levels of 4-6 it is kind of hard to discern a clear point on the scale without a center point.  I like to think of the center of the pain scale the way a friend of mine, Leo (a massage therapist),  puts it.

“4 hurts bad but you will still do something like going out of the house for fun, 5 hurts a lot but you might still try you might not, 6 and you are thinking more ‘maybe I will not do it, I won’t go out, I’ll just stay home, it hurts too much’  at 7 it hurts too much and you are not going out unless you really have to.”

Well, I was a half hour early.  Early is good but it turns out 30 minutes is just too early.  My appointment was at 1pm.  At fifteen til I went to the window to let them know I was here but the window was locked and closed.  So I went to the other window on the same floor that was actually for the OR.  A very nice lady noticed me standing at the window and asked if she could help me.  I explained that I was there for a pain clinic procedure of ‘Dry Needling’ she said “I will let them know you are here, you can go back and wait for them”  I thanked her and went on my way back to the waiting room.

At ten after 1 I made my way back to the OR check in window because the pain clinic check in window was still closed and locked.

The lady was very nice and told me she would call them again.

The third time I bothered her she told me they were just way behind and that the knew I was there.  She suggested I go back to the waiting room and I did.

Always bring a book or a magazine.  In fact if you have extra books or magazines bring them and leave them at the VA for the other vets who have to wait.  It would be a great way to recycle.

At 2pm I told my ride I would not be done at 2 as planned and if he could not continue to wait I would call someone else.  My ride told me he had an appointment in Shoreline at the Blu Cafe under the Hope Church just off of 192nd and hwy 99.  (I have been there a lot and it is great, donation only espresso shop with great meeting areas.)  At 2:15pm they finally came for me.

The nurse told me the patient just before me needed a lot more work than they had expected and she told me they were very sorry to have kept me waiting.  I believe her.  Two decades ago I do not believe I would have believed her but today I have seen so many improvements in the VA system I believed her.

After doing my vitals I had to wait for the doctor.  I remembered the “mindfulness” classes I just finished and decided to sit and meditate and “Start Again” I just did a simple “Body Scan” meditation and relaxed.

The doctor came in and I signed the consent form on the computer screen.

Finally I got on the table and then a nurse came in and disinfected my neck back and my left leg.

The doctor came in and we talked about my pain levels.  He had someone with him.  It may have been a fellow or a med school student or an intern.  I am not sure but the guy was probably in training to actually do the procedure.  My regular doc did the left side and the new guy did the right.  The regular doc had an obvious confidence about the needles.  He would feel with his finger to be sure he had found the area of the muscle that had the problems and then he would position the needle, stick it in a little and hold it with one hand like a carpenter holds a nail he is about to hammer in.

Dry needles installed in the patient.

The doc then would give the needle three distinct, firm, solid taps and the needle would be in place.  Out of ten needles on the left side of my spine he maybe adjusted two with extra taps.

The new guy was not so confident.  It felt like he was twisting the needle. He would tap it a little, 2, 3, 5 times then a couple more.  The regular docs method is a lot better, bam it is done.  The new guy seems like he does not want me to suffer, and the very thing he was doing to reduce or prevent suffering actually caused more suffering.

I just took a deep breath and let it out then I would use the ‘mindfullness’ techniques to ‘start again’.

As I relaxed I noticed the new guy seemed to get better.

Monty K Reed waiting for the needles to start working.

After all of the needles were in I just lay there.  A couple of them really hurt but the rest were just there.  I remember from the previous times that this was “All Good” because the overall effect has been a reduction in pain.  I have been doing a lot of therapies all together and that may mix or skew the results but that is okay because I feel better.

Placebo? Well if it is all in my head that is okay too.  If I am better than the treatment worked.
If you can get in, try the dry needling.


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NEW Address: 6266 13th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108 USA (206) 297-WALK

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