Have You Tried Acupuncture?

oriental medical clinic

This is the front of the Oriental Medical Clinic.

My back was aching. My lower back throbbed when I bent down or twist around. I don’t know what caused the pain. Maybe I slept wrong on the train ride from Seoul. Maybe I hurt it while playing volleyball. My back and side were hurting so much that I wondered if some internal organs were actually injured. I ruled out appendicitis. My appendix wasn’t in the area near the pain.

I have seen Oriental Medical Clinics around, and I had been curious about them. So, I decided to stop in, see if I could find someone who spoke English and learn the price for the services of traditional Chinese medicine. I was willing to see what they had to offer. I went to the counter and asked, “English?” I learned quickly in Korea to use as few words as possible if I am unsure if English is spoken. The woman behind the counter said, “A little.” That was good enough for me, and it meant that she would try to understand me and speak to me.

I pointed to my back and said, “My back hurts.” Then I gave her my insurance card, telling her that I have insurance. I was not sure if the Oriental Medical Clinic accepted the government insurance given to teachers, but I figured that it was worth a shot (I like puns). She said my name and began punching stuff into the computer. When she looked up I asked her the price. She said something that I didn’t understand, so I asked again. “How much won?”

She said 15,500 won (or something like that). I’ve learned my lesson from relying on Korean people who speak a little English but say 15 when they mean 50. I asked her to confirm the price on paper. Yes. She meant 15,500 (about $15). Not bad. She pointed towards a short hall, and I was curious so I went.

The next thing that I knew, another lady was directing me towards a bed behind a curtain, and motioned for me to take my shoes off, put my jacket in a nearby closet and lie down on a heated bed. I love heated beds; I did as she asked. Eventually, a doctor (I think) came and said “Back pain? Where?” I indicated the area. He then begin pressing into the area asking “here? here? here, up?” I said “yes” or “no”.

Acupuncture in Busan

Then he whips out some tiny needles, and although I knew full well that traditional Chinese medicine uses acupuncture services, I got a tad bit freaked out. I asked if it was going to hurt, and he said “no.” I didn’t trust him. The first needle didn’t hurt. I think that felt a tiny prick, if anything at all. I’m not sure how many needles he inserted, but I did feel a few. Once they were inserted, I didn’t feel them at all.

He left, and I lie there for about 10 minutes. When he removed the needles he asked if the pain was gone. At first I my back didn’t hurt at all, but when I twist it a certain way, I still felt it. I felt it enough that it still hurt, but not as bad. When I told him that it was still bothering me he ran his fingers along my spine and said something that indicated that he would try another procedure. Ugh Oh… how much is this going to cost? I tried to ask, but he didn’t answer the right question. I just knew that it was going to cost about 100,000 won ($100) or more.

Suction Cup Therapy

The doctor came back with these plastic suction cups that are hooked to this machine. Hmmmm.. this looks interesting. I lie on my stomach and he puts the suction cups in a straight line on my spine. The machine is going and the suction cups are sucking. I felt like I was being played for a fool, but it would make for an interesting story, and it didn’t hurt. I let the suction cup thingies do their thing. It’s called suction cup therapy. Suction cup therapy is supposed to remove blockages and help the body to release toxins. I have seen Korean women with big red rings on their backs; it looks gross, like a bad skin disease. They got these rings courtesy of suction cup therapy. My Sigma Gamma Rho sorority sister who is in the military, told me that women in the military in Korea know all about suction cup therapy. They go to the Oriental Medicine Clinics and use suction cup therapy for weight loss. More on that later.

Does Suction Cup Therapy Work?
I don’t know how long I was there, but the doctor returned, removed the suction cups and my back was feeling about 80 percent better. Wow! I couldn’t believe it. I could bend and twist and my muscles didn’t feel too painfully rigid and tight. the pain was there, but it was a dull pain, a huge improvement. If still hurt, come back tomorrow, the doctor said. I was thrilled that I had t twist my back all the way around to feel the painful tinge. I was cool with that.

I forgot all about my back the next day until I was already at work. Then I realized that my back was not hurting at all. About 99 percent of the pain was gone. As I twist my back in various directions, I can honestly say that the accupuncture and sucking thingie worked. Oh, and I didn’t even have to pay 15,000 won. The treatments cost 5,400 won, less than $6.


  • Shawn

    LOL! This post is soooo timely as my back has been killing me for days now! In addition, I, too, have been contemplating acupuncture. Though I must admit I’ve never heard of the suction thingies. ha! But, with your recent testimony…willing to go for it if under $20 bucks!

    Thanks for dropping some new knowledge. Good stuff! ­čÖé

  • Blog looks really good mate, keep it up! Inspires me to keep building a following of my own.

  • yea, if it’s that cheap let me go tomorrow! i will def need to find a place near me and check prices. i was thinking of going to the public bath which i heard is awesome, and the green tea baths really help blood flow but i will need to mentally prepare for that one a lil longer, lol. i have been told by Koreans and foreigners that strangers will be hard core staring at my nakedness and i am not quite prepared for that yet! >.<

    acupuncture and suction cup therapy seem like better options for now, haha.
    .-= neverknowsbest┬┤s last blog ..good rainy day song. =-.

  • http://www.she-earns.com‘s done it once again! Great post.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  • Melania Pender

    Found this article this morning as I was searching for more insight on acupuncture. Love the article and I absolutely will be following your blog! I’m new Korea and find this blog amazing and very helpful to me!

  • Carmeletta

    Hi, Can I have the address of the oriental medical clinic???

  • I don’t know it at all, and I’m sure that it’s in Korean if I go back. They didn’t speak English there.

  • sy

    I need the adress and phone number of acupuncture clinics in Busan. Thank you

  • Well, okay now. I can’t provide that information.

  • I tried it for smoking and it worked great.

  • Acupuncture indeed does help but we should be careful to choose one that is real not the pretend ones who are only after our money.

  • I have tried Acupuncture and my gosh it is so nice for back pain. I was so relaxed after the 1 hour acupuncture last week and woke up around 8am already. I wanted to do it again at least a week. Is it fine?

  • Yes. Acupuncture worked for me. I want to have another session before I leave Korea. I don’t know how often it should be done.

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  • I’ve tried this too, here in Japan. I was pretty skeptical beforehand, having read a lot both for and against it, but it really worked for my back. Just wish it was covered by insurance, which it isn’t in Japan.

  • Acupuncture is really good for your body. It was introduced to me by a Japanese friend. It has no side effects. I’ve tried it many times. It helps relieve my headache and I’ve been doing it for over a year because I have migraine. It’s also okay to have a session 3 times or 2 times a week. It is also proven to cure sickness.

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