Skeptic News: Herbal medicine may worsen pain

Herbal paste might not be the best way to treat rotator cuff syndrome, an orthopedist said Wednesday, urging older adults to consult doctors before applying traditional remedies for such ailments. Patients who choose Chinese medicine prescriptions over Western treatments sometimes aggravate their pain, Lee Wen-ge, a doctor at Kang-ning General Hospital, said at a press conference.

Citing hospital statistics, Lee said:

“46 percent of Taiwanese patients in the 40 to 60 age bracket who experience shoulder pain are later diagnosed with rotator cuff tendinopathy, a term used to describe injuries caused by overuse of the rotator cuff tendons.”

The causes of rotator cuff tendinopathy are many, including aging, repetitive movement, traumatic strain and sports injuries. Lee cited one 60-year-old female patient whose skin developed lesions because she kept applying herbal paste to her shoulder for a long period of time. The woman’s condition was only relieved after micro-surgery and rehabilitation.

It is not uncommon to see patients go for acupuncture, massage and herbal remedies. The public, however, should understand that herbal treatment might not be the most efficient approach to pain management. Tsuang Yang-hwei, head of Shuang Ho Hospsital’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery stated:

“A lot of Taiwanese patients intuitively apply herbal patches when they feel shoulder pain,”

Tsuang said that to ensure optimal recovery, the best way is to consult a Western medicine physician before undergoing any treatment.

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