Mianyang Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Sichuan, China, May 2016:
Today we finished early in the spleen / stomach department, so our translator Mandy took us to the Orthopedics / Bone department at the Inpatient building of Mianyang Chinese Medicine Hospital. Here we met the unusually tall Dr Shen – a very friendly man who obviously loves what he does.
The floor was quite quiet – most of the doctors and interns were in the office when we arrived. Dr Shen kindly showed us around. We visited one patient, a man in his 40’s who had been in a motor vehicle accident in March. Dr Shen showed us before and after x-rays of his pelvis. His pelvis had been broken in three places. Because his accident was a case of hit and run, he did not receive any insurance payments, and could not afford surgery. Thus this patient came to the Chinese medicine department due to it costing much less. According to Dr Shen this was a good decision because he was able to be treated without surgery and would therefore have very good recovery.
Dr Shen said he used traditional ‘manual reduction’ techniques on this patient, involving traction and a herbal wrap, binding and bed rest. Moxibustion was also used. He said that the alternative for this patient (and an expensive one) would have been surgery involving metal plates in his pelvis, which was difficult to fully recover from. Instead, this patient had no surgery, no scars and so far demonstrated very good healing of all the fractures in his pelvis.
This was really great to see, and I certainly wished we had access to this kind of treatment option in Canada. It is important to note that Dr Shen stressed that upon intake, doctors will generally recommend one treatment or another, based on the severity of the fracture. Dr Shen would not hesitate to use surgery or other Western treatments for more severe cases.
Before we left this ward, Dr Shen showed us many photos on his computer of other cases he has helped with traditional Chinese techniques. Bone setting had been somewhat of a ‘mysterious’ ancient practice in my mind, so I’m happy to have had a chance to have seen some of the results of ‘bone setting’ in action here.