Using Acupuncture to Treat Chronic Pain

With Federal Government warning against the use of various popular pain medications growing, people are now turning to alternative treatments like acupuncture to treat chronic pain disorders. Okay, we all know there’s pain and then there’s PAIN.

A kidney stone, toothache, or headache may take time, but will subside eventually. PAIN that is persistent and unyielding, hence the term “chronic,” is another story.

Chronic pain affects people of all demographics, including children and is estimated to affect as many as 50 million Americans. In the United States alone, medical treatment and lost work days due to chronic pain costs approximately $70 billion per year.

Headaches, back pain, arthritis, and fibromyalgia are just a few conditions categorized as chronic pain disorders. Other common types of chronic pain include neck pain, TMJ, whiplash, carpel tunnel syndrome, phantom limb pain, the various neuropathies, etc. Chronic pain can result from one or a combination of factors including stress, illness, nerve injury and surgical complications.

Pain is a warning sign of disease or injury, and should be dealt with as soon as possible.

Modern Medicine and Chronic Pain

The use of anesthetics, spinal infusion (implanting devices such as morphine pumps into the spine), destruction of nerves, joint replacement and surgery are some invasive solutions that may work for some, but may also have serious implications.

Medication however, is the most common choice of treatment for chronic pain in the United States, but with drugs like Vioxx, Bextra, Celebrex, Aleve and Naprosyn being named in various health advisories, millions of Americans who have relied heavily on these drugs to ease their pain are now seeking alternative treatments.

Acupuncture as Treatment for Chronic Pain

Acupuncture is an ancient method of pain and disease control. It involves the insertion of very fine, disposable needles into places on the skin called acupuncture points which help to regulate the flow of positive and negative energy along channels in the body. Acupuncture is believed to work because it stimulates circulation to the tissues, releases tension in the muscle surrounding the acupuncture point, and encourages the release of endorphins into the spine and brain. Research has also shown that glucose and other bloodstream chemicals become elevated after acupuncture therapy.

Developed by the Chinese as early as 3000 B.C., folklore states that acupuncture was discovered when a warrior was pierced by an arrow in his leg. He later found that this relieved a pain in his shoulder. Now while you’re not about to wound one part of you to heal another, the principal of acupuncture has great merit.

Since then, acupuncture has been used effectively relieve headache, backache, arthritis, neuralgia, osteoarthritis, and various other types of pain that can become chronic.

Acupuncture is without question one of the most powerful pain-altering modalities in the world. Its reputation for pain relief is internationally known and respected. It may be practiced successfully with a variety of procedures other than needles, including lasers, electronic and noninvasive stimulation devices for those who are not comfortable with needles and/or would not consider acupuncture otherwise.

My own experience suggests that acupuncture and Chinese herbology are more effective and much less dangerous than surgery, steroids, NSAIDs, injections, antidepressants, and anticonvulsant drugs. Compared to these methods of treatment, acupuncture therapy has many fewer side effects and lower risks in general. Also, and perhaps more importantly, acupuncture treats the underlying causes of pain, assisting the body to heal on its own.

Treating pain with acupuncture will often require a series of treatments to determine the response. This is especially true for long standing problems and those that have not responded to any Western treatment. With time, conditions become more complex and affect more areas of your body. It is important that you seek out a licensed acupuncture physician to carry-out your treatment. At the end of it all, it’s about your health and well-being.