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A few weeks back, I started suffering from throbbing headaches, and burning, shooting pains in my right ear. It lasted a couple weeks before I sought treatment, thinking it would go away. I finally decided to make an appointment with UPMC’s ear, nose and throat specialists. It was determined that the cause of my ear pain and headaches was TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorder. The doctor recommended I use heat and anti-inflammatory medication, such as Aleve. After a few days of this, I didn’t see any noticeable improvements. A few people I talked to who have TMJ suggested acupuncture might be able to heal my problem. Not only was I not aware of acupuncture as a treatment for TMJ, but I didn’t know that a first-class acupuncture center was located so close to me, the Free Spirit Wellness Center in Beaver.

Free Spirit Wellness Center is actually located around the back of the building that Waffles Incaffeinated is in in downtown Beaver. A true western Pennsylvanian gives directions based on landmarks, and I’m no different. You can park along 3rd Street in Beaver and just walk around to the back of the building. There’s an elevator you can take if you’re unable to walk the steps up to the second floor. Free Spirit is right next to Herban Touch Juice Labs and the Sangha Center for Yoga.
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I’ve never had acupuncture before, so I had absolutely zero expectations. I went in with an open mind, not knowing what to expect. I walked in and was greeted by Shawn Kissick, the owner, founder, and acupuncturist. Shawn has an esteemed background in acupuncture. He is the Valedictorian of a three year Master Level Acupuncture Program at the accredited American Institute of Alternative Medicine in Columbus, Ohio. In the fall of 2007, he spent a month in Beijing, China studying and practicing in two separate hospitals. Mr. Kissick also graduated with a Doctorate in Qi Gong in 2012 after completing a 2000-hour training. He is nationally certified by NCCAOM in Acupuncture and Licensed by the State of Pennsylvania.

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Shawn thoroughly explained to me the art and science behind acupuncture. He went into great detail how it works, why it works, and how it even began 4,000 years ago in China. Acupuncture is one of the pillars of Chinese medicine.

According to his website, “Acupuncture involves inserting fine needles into specific points on the body (acupoints), which communicate with channels (meridians) of vital energy (Qi, or Chi). It is often combined with Moxibustion, the burning of the herb Moxa (Chinese Mugwort), which helps to tonify, warm, smooth Qi, and stimulate acupoints and certain areas of the body. Theoretically, acupuncture adjusts this flow of Qi in the body, allowing the Qi to move freely where it may be stuck, or guiding it to areas of deficiency, and leading it away from areas of excess with too much Qi. This regulation of Qi allows the harmonious balance of the body to be restored. The needles are single-use, sterile, disposable, and so thin you may not even notice them. Some feel tingling, warmth, heaviness, or Qi movement.”

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I’m sure some people would be skeptical of acupuncture, but I’m here to tell you, it most definitely works. Shawn inserted the fine needles into different points in my body, including my face, head, jaw, elbows, and toes. I barely felt anything! It didn’t hurt, pinch, or prick at all. The needles were left in for around 15 to 20 minutes before he removed them. I was treated twice in a span of a week. My headaches and jaw pain went away completely, and my ear pain was reduced by about 90%. I couldn’t have been more pleased or impressed with Shawn Kissick, his facility, and the acupuncture itself.

I would recommend Free Spirit Wellness Center to anyone curious about acupuncture or looking for an alternative form of medicine. They also accept insurance plans from Highmark, Cigna, Veterans Choice Program, and most UPMC plans. Medicare and Medicaid plans are not covered right now.

For more information, check them out at www.freespiritwellness.com

Their address is 455 3rd Street, Beaver. 724-774-8729

Marc is a lifelong resident of Beaver County. A 2001 graduate of Center High School and 2005 graduate of Point Park University, Marc is employed by the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School and officiates high school and college football. Follow Marc on Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram @marcgrando