Treatment for chronic pain and ailments in Malaysia

When I was in the corporate world, many of my colleagues suffered from chronic pain and ailments. There are conditions ranging from lower back pain (very common), shoulder pain, frozen shoulder, numbness and recurring flus/sinus/fever.

In the two companies I worked in, the newbies we hired were healthy when they first joined out company. Fast forward few years later, some of them put on weight, and had to be on medication for high blood pressure and/or diabetes.

Most companies offered medical benefits whereby employees can seek treatment from panel clinics or get a referral letter to see a specialist in a private hospital if the ailment does not get better with many treatments. Chronic pain, cough and fever is a very common problem that I noticed most staff suffers from.

I am not a doctor but I will share with you my experience. Things that I had to learn through the hard way. When we are in pain and visit the panel doctor, you would be usually given pain killers and muscle relaxants. My friends would keep taking them but never got better. Being in constant pain is no joke especially if you have to sit in the office, literally not moving the entire day and worrying about deadlines and having a huge workload.

I have very low pain tolerance because I needed my body to be in optimal levels. And I hate to take MC because that would means my work will pile up once I get back. So when going to panel doctors and hospitals ain’t helping, I opted for alternative/ complimentary treatment which I pay out of my own pocket and that I often had to take leave to go for treatment (but I have kind bosses, often they give me time off). It works better than any medicine.

You know, we are very very lucky to live in Malaysia where we have various choices of alternative treatments available. Conventional or Western treatment is effective for acute condition but if you have a chronic condition, the alternative treatments are most effective.

Recommended alternative treatment:

Sorry, you company’s panel would not cover these treatments.

1. Bekam (blood acucupping)
Bekam is a traditional Malay treatment similar to acucupping except that small incisions would be made at specific acupoints in your body. It is very effective for chronic and acute pain that we usually suffer from day to day living. You can read about my experience of bekam treatment in this post. The pain from the needle poke is only a few seconds but after that, you would feel so much better.

Bekam can also remove a lot of cholesterol and toxins in the body so it is effective to treat fatigue and is a good complimentary treatment for high cholesterol.

You can ask around a Malay colleague- they younger generation may not know a specific practitioner but they can find out through their parents or uncles and aunties. Seriously, bekam is very effective for pain management.

2. Acupuncture, guasa and Chinese medication
I’ve had a few episodes of having fever and catching a chill. I know I cannot work when I have fever or chill so I would go to my panel doctor to get medical leave. The doctor would give me the antibiotics which I had to accept. I would just ask my family to help me get some 100 plus and then I would come back and take porridge and rest a lot. But I don’t take the antibiotic.

It is different with catching a chill because it is harder to get well.  I would go straight to a traditional Chinese sinseh to have my pulse taken. Usually they would prescribe me with some yucky concoction of Chinese herbs which had to be boiled and drank. But I am a believer because once I caught a chill and could not get better after a few days…. my neighbor recommended a Chinese sinseh. I went to have my pulse taken, was given Chinese herbs to be boiled and drank. You know, the moment I drank the medicine, my fever and chill just went off. It was close to miraculous.

A Malay colleague of mine is a believer in Chinese medicine. Why? Because one time she was coughing so badly for more than a month without getting better despite going on a few course of antibiotics. Finally a friend recommended her to visit Tung Shin hospital. She went there, was given acupuncture treatment and Chinese herbal medicine.

She told me, the moment she drank the medicine, her cough just disappeared. It is as if out of whack elements in the body rebalances itself. She was supposed to take the medicine twice but after the first time she was already healed.

3. Chiropractor treatment
If you have chronic pain in your body and do not like acupuncture or bekam treatment, you can consider chiropractor treatment. To be honest, I am not in favor of the needle either so usually my to-go treatment is to a chiropractor.

Note: If you have done surgery like knee/hip replacement or back surgery, please inform the chiropractor. Usually they would not be able to carry out the treatment.

I’ve sought treatments from 2 chiropractors and they are both good in their own way. The first one is Premier Chiropractor located in SS2, Petaling Jaya (please call to make appointment).

The second one is Dr Lo, a Taiwanese chiropractor located in OUG. Usually I would visit Dr Lo. You need to call and make appointment first- but you would need a friend who can speak Mandarin to help you make the appointment. It is better to have a friend who can speak Mandarin to accompany you for treatment as well.

4. Tai chi, qi gong, wai tan kung
Just hang around any large taman (park), ask around the residents  and you would undoubtedly come across either a tai chi, qi gong or wai tan kung class. These are do it yourself which requires constant effort- and it takes a long time to see results. Done correctly, these exercise help to improve the qi circulation and nourish your inner organs thus helping to alleviate a host of health conditions.

I’ve attended wai tan kung classes at one point of my life. My instructor that time was 86 years old, very healthy and is still driving around, taking his wife to the market. What happened was that he suffered a heart attack in his 50s. He has constant follow up checkups with IJN (Institut Jantung Negara). After he dedicated to practice wai tan kung, his heart condition gradually improved. The cardiologists are amazed at him and have invited him to IJN to give talks to the patients there. When he was asked by the doctors what he did that made him got better, he explained about wai tan kung. The doctor said, “whatever you are doing, please continue doing it”. But an important disclaimer is that he is still following up with checkups. It is just that as a former heart attack patient, the doctors never expected him to live such a health life.  I used to suffer from severe sinus frequently at work but on days that I’ve went for wai tan kung classes, I would not get sinus that day.

Sometimes we may feel very reluctant to pay out of pocket for alternative treatment for chronic pain and certain health ailments when we have medical coverage. Or refused to put in the time and effort in mostly FOC (free) tai chi, wai tan kung and qi gong classes.  But really- if you have chronic pain, painkillers and muscle relaxants are not going to cure completely.  I explored alternatives because I refuse to have the quality of my life being affected by chronic pain. Aside from that, I also manage my own condition on my own through guasa, dry acucupping (or known as bekam angin…I bought acucups and have them at home), cane exercise, self massage, wai tan kung and stretching.

You may have doubt if it is going to work….and why if it works then mainstream medicine and insurance companies do not cover these treatment? Well, probably due to the concern of lack of regulation and also it is not something accepted in the Western or conventional medicine.

Do you know that in Thailand, almost all the government hospitals there have their own separate alternative or complimentary section like acupuncture, traditional Thai massage and Chinese medicine. Yes, a massage place in a hospital but fully regulated and managed by the hospital. But still, as far as I know, the government’s healthcare subsidy does not cover for these treatment even though the hospitals have allocation for these clinics to be set up within their premise. However the pricing for the alternative treatment in the government hospitals would be reasonable and not inflated even for foreigners.  Why they do it? Because the government there recognizes that these treatments work and in the long run more effective in treating chronic ailments.

My mom and most of her friends are retired staffnurses. They were trained under the British syllabus. Now they are old and most of them suffers from chronic pain, arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. I have tried to suggest to her friends a number of times to give these treatment a try rather than downing on painkillers or choosing to live in perpetual pain. Most of them are also sleep deprived due to the pain and lose quality of life. I’ve even offered to take them there and pay for the treatment but they have refused. It makes me feel sad and at the same time a little frustrated because I just know they can get better.

You really don’t need to take my word for it. But just give complimentary treatments a try. They can compliment whatever prescribed treatment or medication that the doctors are giving you.


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