Many people live with pain everyday. Sometimes this pain is present at every moment, making each activity difficult to accomplish, disturbing sleep and mood. Acupuncture can be a good non-addictive alternative to opioids and a good adjunct treatment to massage therapy, chiropractic, and physiotherapy.
How does acupuncture relieve pain?
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a person’s health is influenced by the quantity, quality, and balanced state of vital energy known as Qi. The acupuncturist introduces fine needles in strategic places to harmonize this energy and thus promote health and reduce pain.
According to science, the insertion of needles at specific points of the body promotes the release of endorphins, a natural painkilling chemical, and affects the part of the brain that governs serotonin, a chemical involved with mood.
Western scientists suspect that needling activates neurotransmitters—chemicals that facilitate nerve responses. And MRI studies have indicated that acupuncture may suppress the release of chemicals thought to play a role in perpetuating chronic pain.
How often should you have acupuncture treatments?
The number and frequency of treatments required vary depending on the condition. As a general rule, for pain, the earlier the problem started, the fewer treatments are required.
Pain according to Traditional Chinese Medicine
In TCM, pain is often seen as stagnation of the Blood and/or the Qi (energy). With Blood stagnation, the pain is fixed and sharp, whereas for Qi stagnation, the location is not fixed, and the pain feels distended.
Another common condition seen with arthritis is Bi syndrome. It is characterized by the invasion of Evil Pathogens which are Wind Bi (wandering pain), Dampness Bi (aggravated by rainy days), Cold Bi (alleviated with warmth), and Heat Bi (burning, redness, and swelling).
Examples of painful conditions seen in acupuncture
- Neck, shoulders, or back pain
- Migraine or headache
- Arthritis, osteoarthritis, and rheumatism
- Frozen shoulder
- Tennis elbow
- Pain occasioned by a trauma
- Phantom pain
- Postoperative pain
- Plantar heel pain
- Cancer pain
- Prostatic or pelvic pain
- Temporomandibular (TMJ) pain
- Plantar fasciitis
- Dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps)
- Prevention of post-herpetic neuralgia (shingles)
What to expect during treatment?
Good results are often obtained by treating far from the area of pain, for example, applying needles to the legs for back pain. Needles can also be inserted in the area of pain. Other techniques that can be used are cupping therapy, auriculotherapy, guasha, tuina massage, and electroacupuncture.