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Swelling behind Ear
I recently treated a patient who came to see if I could do anything about a swelling behind his right earlobe. I asked him how long it has been there for. He replied that it's been a few weeks and doesn't seem to go away. He remarked it hurts even if he does not touch it. I thought to myself: if this was inflamed, then usually this should be red but the swelling does not look red at all. I palpated it and it felt like a round ball shaped mass that was a bit deeper than I presumed. This explains why it wasn't so obvious from simple inspection in terms of color and appearance, as it is deeper. Then, the patient suddenly asked me if I could use Acupuncture. I then explained that usually this kind of mass, just from its presentation and texture, is mostly due to inflammation.
This particular occasion should be nothing less, except it's embedded deeper so redness isn't so apparent. I told him Acupuncture won't do much. Although, I have in the past seen similar cases where I've used thicker needles to open up a tiny hole so pus could be easily discharged with some squeezing. Yet just from the texture that I felt under my hands I can say there is no pus. Trying to squeeze out anything would only yield blood and make it even bigger and harder.
So, I entertained him to the idea of Chinese Medicine instead. Unfortunately, he gave a look that signified a lack of trust. I told him, "rest assured, take the medicine and there would only be 2 consequences. One: pus forms from within providing for easy discharge. Two: pus does not form and the mass resolves on its own." I prescribed a week's worth. Finally, he posed with a question, "so what is this lump anyway?" I replied, "it doesn't matter what it is". I presumed he left thinking he probably came to see the wrong person(or "walked through the wrong door" as it is said in Chinese)!
A little over a week later he came back with a grin, and told me to check out behind his right earlobe. I palpated the area and the mass was nearly 100% gone. Apparently no pus was formed and it had resolved on its own.
If I really had to say what was going on, I would simply believe it was inflammation of a specific layer of tissue under the skin, which is common in clinic. In modern medicine, they may believe this to be something wrong with the lymph nodes since it is close to the vicinity. From my observation I don't believe so. But regardless, either antibiotics would be given or some kind of pain-killer which does absolutely nothing to make it go away. The Chinese Medicine prescribed tackles the problem from another perspective---by opening up and clearing away "blockages" in the meridians, which worked beautifully in this case.
This case made me think of a patient from years back when I was still in Chinese Medicine school as a student. One day in our student clinic a patient came in with a quite serious condition. As an outdoor enthusiast, this patient, who I believe to be in his 60s or 70s, almost completely severed his right thumb(if I remember correctly) while chopping wood with an axe, the old-fashioned way of course.
As far as I understand surgery was able to reattach the finger but the nerve was heavily damaged and multiple ligaments were traumatized as well. The patient of course wasn't coming to the clinic to see if we could make his finger functional, as he believed it likely wouldn't from the severity of the accident. He was hoping if we could help him instead with the side-effects caused by the massive dosage of antibiotics which were routinely pumped into his system via a portable IV apparatus 24/7. Apparently, the thumb looked swollen and red, quite literally like a sausage, and the doctors had believed it was bacterially infected, hence the IV. During that period students were assigned certain patients. With this particular patient I was merely a bystander during intake as it was not assigned to me. But I believe this person needed Chinese Medicine and not Acupuncture, because he was too weak to get any effect out of Acupuncture. Of course, I did not know what happened later on. To me, with Chinese Medicine, the inflamed finger could be easily treated, saving him from the detriment of antibiotics which I doubt will do anything other than make things worse.