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Papers of the Week

2020 01

Med J Malaysia



The precarious use of charm needles susuk in treatment of low back pain by traditional medicine practitioners and its possible risk to patient safety.


Rampal S, Tan EK, Gendeh HS, Prahaspathiji LJ, Zainal S, Amir S
Med J Malaysia. 2020 01; 75(1):80-82.
PMID: 32008027.


A 68-year-old female presented with a 1-month history of lower back pain with right-sided radiculopathy and numbness. She was diagnosed with lumbar spondylosis and treated conservatively with analgesia and physiotherapy. Imaging showed multiple susuk, a metal alloy, in the lower back region and other regions of the body. The patient had undergone traditional medicine consultation 10 years earlier when the susuk was inserted in the lower back as talisman. The practice of the insertion of susuk is popular in rural East Malaysia and Indonesia. These foreign bodies act as possible causes of chronic inflammation and granuloma formation. In addition, the localised heighten peril upon imaging. This report suggests that the insertion of multiple susuk as talisman carries risk to safety of patients when imaging, and this practice complicates the management of musculoskeletal disorders.