Posted November 15, 2019
By Shonda Talerico Dudlicek
In a room with muted light, soft music and sounds of bubbling fountains and crashing waves, it seems counterproductive to hear grunts, groans and wincing through gritted teeth.
However, in the office of Dr. Nicholas Lorenz, he encourages patients to let it out while he works on them. Whether that’s expelling deep breaths or groaning under a deep tissue rub, sounds are better. Good, strong breathing actually helps with treatment.
For Lorenz, those reactions are a guide to how a patient’s body is reacting. Is the pressure too much? Is it painful? He can ease up. First visits may be the most uncomfortable for patients as muscles, tissues, tendons, and ligaments are manipulated back into shape.
“Healthy tendons and ligaments don’t tear—it’s when they’re tense,” he said.
Lorenz, a naprapath at Health First Wellness Center in Schaumburg, Ill., uses a number of different methods on patients to see what works best for them. One of those is cupping, applying suction cups to the skin to help with pain, inflammation and circulation.
Lorenz and I have chatted about the methods he uses, what he’s doing and why. As a journalist, of course, I’m curious, but as the patient face-down on the massage table, I’m also seeking relief.
Two years ago, I woke up with burning sciatic pain that radiated into my right hip and down my right leg. Driving brought me to tears. Sitting, standing, lying, walking—everything hurt. Bursitis developed in my right hip, which made my leg feel like someone twisted it off and stuck it back on wrong. A herniated disc around at L4 and L5 caused a pinched nerve and shooting pain. I saw orthopedic doctors and physical therapists but not much worked. A cortisone shot in the spine offered about six months of relief. The second shot didn’t take.
At this point, I didn’t have any options to curb the leg and back pain. Recently, I noticed my right hip tilted upward along with my right shoulder, and my lower back throbbed. Surgery wasn’t an option because I have low platelets.
That led me to explore holistic, non-invasive methods like naprapathy and chiropractic.
When Lorenz suggested cupping to help with my circulation and pain, I was game. I could feel the myriad methods he was using on me were making a difference. Sure, I might be sore. But some days I could feel my hips and tailbone loosen up, my tight hamstrings not so piercing, and see my posture improve.
Lorenz himself suffered an elbow injury after falling on ice while running. He tried naprapathy after PT didn’t yield the desired results. “I was tenacious about getting better. I’ve always been open-minded. I was a drummer my whole life and when I injured my elbow, it was bad for the drumming.”
He wasn’t wholly pleased with PT results so he sought holistic healers and other alternative treatments.
“Then I found out about naprapathy and it was the best thing for my injury,” he said of the connective tissue manipulation. He even changed his course of study to naprapathic medicine.
Lorenz blends modern techniques with cupping, an ancient Chinese method. He said he about 70 percent of his patients see results. First, he works out the tension so the body is more receptive to cupping.
Cupping uses a rubber pump to create the vacuum inside the cup. Cups can be glass, silicone or plastic. Lorenz uses plastic, which he says adheres better than glass and is less likely to break.
Sometimes a cup will pop off my back or leg because I’m so tight. I can feel a pulling and hear the cup bounce on the floor. In extreme cases, blood might seep through the pores. Lorenz pulls a cup off my leg, pointing out that if it stayed on much longer, that might happen.
The heat created from the suction steams up the insides of the cups. Cupping brings a strong coloration of the skin created by the pressure. Circulation impacts how soon marks disappear after treatment. Like acupuncture, cupping increases or decreases blood flow. Toxins are pulled to the surface.
Dark circles reveal areas most in need of treatment. For me, that’s nearly every part of my back and marks last for up to a week.
If there is strong coloration, “it might be shocking to a patient,” Lorenz said. The first time after cupping, I had dark red, green, purple and even black welts on my back.
Cupping feels like a twisting and pinching. At first, it can hurt, but gradually numbs. The blood rushing is a good thing, and Lorenz can loosen the cup and reapply it if it’s too unbearable. Cups can stay suctioned on the skin for a few minutes to up to 25 minutes.
“It’s all about getting the body oxygen. With blood, we bring oxygen,” he said, adding that it’s all connected.
After the cups come off, I flip over. WHOOSH! My sinuses were clear. Lorenz reminds me every system in our bodies are connected.
Post-treatment, Lorenz will apply magnesium oil, which he holsters in a spray bottle in his apron pocket. Then he uses a vibrating massager and manual rub.
“It’s just one tool,” he said of cupping. “I can place cups and work on other areas while cups do their work. With cupping, I can give my patients more.”
The manual in one of Lorenz’s cupping sets, made in Asia, reads: “Removes toxins, tension and evil.”
For those of us seeking relief from chronic back pain, we’ll try anything to banish that evil.
Dr. Nicholas Lorenz, Naprapath
1037 Woodfield Rd.
Schaumburg, IL 60173
Hours of Operation:
Mon.—Thurs., 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Fri., 9 a.m to 1 p.m.