An unusual X-ray image has emerged that shows actual splinters of gold that have become embedded in a South Korean woman’s hands.
The 58-year-old woman went to a rheumatology clinic in South Korea and complained of chronic joint pain, as well as strange deformities in her hands and feet.
She has reportedly been suffering from these pains for 40 years, and since her teenage years had been treating her ailment using a traditional Asian technique known as gold thread acupuncture.
Gold thread acupuncture involves small pieces of sterile gold thread being inserted into a person’s body using an acupuncture needle.
According to a report on the case, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, this alternative health treatment has ‘long been used to treat joint pain’ in the region of East Asia.
Dr Young-Bin Joo and Dr Kyung-Su Park wrote in the report:
In East Asia and globally, acupuncture – including gold thread acupuncture – has long been used to treat joint pain. Oral and injectable gold preparations are also sometimes used.
The team of doctors at St Vincent’s Hospital found ‘gold threads were inserted at almost every deformed joint’ in the woman’s hands, which had been left deformed on account of rheumatoid arthritis.
After examining an X-ray of the woman’s hands, doctors could see visible traces of the gold splinters; appearing like bright, white squiggles at nearly every joint.
Dr Park reported the gold thread acupuncture treatment had not appeared to have worsened the woman’s health issues, but they hadn’t led to improvements either.
According to Dr Park, if the woman had continued receiving ‘proper medical treatments with anti-rheumatic drugs’ in the early stages of her condition, as opposed to acupuncture, she might have avoided the deformities to her finger joints brought on by her rheumatoid arthritis.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.