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Frida Kahlo - The Ultimate Motor Vehicle Accident

Frida Kahlo as we now know her may have never been if it weren't for the motor vehicle accident that placed her under a dark shadow of chronic pain and infertility for the rest of her life. I believe with all my heart that acupuncture could have helped.



The Broken Column, 1944 by Frida Kahlo


From February 19th to June 5th, 2022, the Portland Art Museum will be graced with 150 pieces of Mexican Modernist art which will include the fantastic, tragic, and dreamy works of Frida Khalo! Am I excited? You bet I am! I’ve seen Frida’s work in Mexico City, London, New York, Chicago, and now in my new home of Portland. Her art felt significant to me as a young girl. She was Mexican, like me, a female, like me, and had a lot of pain… sadly, like me. You see, by the time I was in high school two motor vehicle accidents (MVA’s) had left me laying on the ground between classes with burning pain in my spine that would develop into a nightmare of disability through my 20s, ending with a dreaded diagnosis of fibromyalgia.


But Frida’s MVA story was far worse than anything I have experienced or seen.

Returning home from school with her boyfriend, Frida boarded a bus not knowing she was approaching the event that would confine her in a relentless cycle of pain and artistic expression for the rest of her life. The bus collided with an electric streetcar, several passengers died and Frida was found impaled by a rail through her abdomen and uterus with fractured ribs, bones, and pelvis. Her injuries were brutal but it was those injuries mixed with her rebellious personality that gave us the artist “Frida” we now know. In recovery, she was restricted by plaster corsets used to reset her displaced vertebra. In almost complete restriction, she requested her father’s oil paints and began producing portraits to help pass time.


In 1925, nearly a hundred years ago, western medicine was in it’s developmental stages around the world and I can only imagine how barbaric therapies and surgeries of that time were compared to what is possible today. Frida wasn’t lucky in that sense but something that was available with the wisdom of thousands of years was acupuncture. And yes, I believe with all my heart it would have helped. A million times yes.


Acupuncture offers many benefits for people coping with whiplash, bulging discs, sprains, strains, and many other symptoms from motor vehicle accidents. It is very powerful in promoting the healing of traumatized tissues that have been overstretched, tightened, or wounded. Healing time and scar tissue is decreased by increasing local blood circulation and tissue metabolism in a way prescription medications can’t. When muscle relaxers or pain medications are prescribed there is no direction in how it will affect the body, they literally impact every part. There is no taking Flexeril, a commonly prescribed muscle relaxer, just for your tight back. Once ingested it is carried to every tissue in your body from your heart to your toes! Acupuncture is more precise than that, focusing all of the body’s healing efforts on what is needed. Often MVA patients are dealing with tissue that has been overstretched, like whiplash, and muscles that have tightened as a protective response. But that is no problem for Chinese medicine practitioners, we assess the injuries and create a custom treatment to care for each individual.


Another aspect of acupuncture is that we can treat beyond physical injuries. MVA’s often cause odd mixes of symptoms like ear ringing, dizziness, memory loss, balance issues, panic attacks, PTSD or nausea. With acupuncture, we can formulate treatments to tackle these miscellaneous problems that can make recovery emotionally more difficult than expected.


It’s tragic how the MVA left Frida’s body broken. Chronic pain and infertility were a dark shadow over her life but if this event never happened we might have missed out on the visual genius of her work. Even so, I wish I was there to reduce some of her sufferings because I know there was a better way.


To learn more about our acupuncture services for motor vehicle accidents visit our MVA page here.


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