Acupuncture is an effective alternative treatment for pain. For generations, acupuncture techniques have been used in Chinese Medicine to treat a range of ailments from the common cold to circulation problems. Now, Acupuncture is recognized as an effective treatment for pain and is even beneficial in some operating rooms as an anesthesia alternative.
Given that musculoskeletal pain is a major source of discomfort and disability in the U.S. population. Alternative pain treatments are becoming more necessary. This is even truer now that we face an opioid crisis and an alarming rate of addiction to narcotics prescribed for pain.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a Chinese medical technique that treats by restoring energy balance in the body. Energy, or Qi, travels all throughout the body via meridian channels. Meridians transport Qi and unite different parts of the body (like the heart, spleen, lung, and liver).
In acupuncture, the practitioner inserts fine, sterile needles in specific points along meridian channels (known as acupoints) to stimulate energy flow and restore balance. Since pain and illness are a reflection of an energy imbalance or dysfunction in the body, these are treated by restoring that balance via acupoint and meridian stimulation.
The benefits of acupuncture are notable in Western medicine. It is recognizable that acupuncture is more effective at providing instant pain relief when compared to sham (fake) acupuncture and other common analgesics (1).
While it is a theory that many of the benefits of acupuncture come from the placebo effect (pure belief). A 2012 meta-analysis concluded that the “significant differences between true and sham acupuncture indicate that acupuncture is more than a placebo” (2).
Acupuncture is more than worth a try when it comes to pain management. Most mainstream pain treatments rely heavily on the use of pharmaceuticals which have side-effects and can be addictive. It is also worth mention that acupuncture can be very relaxing and associated with lower stress levels. It is also relatively cheap and covered by most insurance companies as a treatment for pain.
Acupuncture supplements other forms of treatment without major interference. It supplements massage, physical therapy, exercise, nutrition therapy, manipulative treatments (like OMT and spinal manipulations), surgery, and even pharmaceuticals.
Acupuncture also supplements Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) to target sites of inflammation and injury. The electrical stimulation helps disperse the collection of fluid at the site of inflammation responsible for pain. Electrical stimulation helps retain muscle strength by inducing its contraction. This is especially important in cases where one is immobile and the lack of movement is causing muscle weakness.
At Santa Cruz CORE, it’s more than just acupuncture; the acupuncturists work with multiple healing modalities during an acupuncture session to get you feeling better. Visit us today to experience a therapeutic acupuncture session today!
Xiang, Anfeng, et al. “The Immediate Analgesic Effect of Acupuncture for Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Advances in Decision Sciences, Hindawi, 25 Oct. 2017, www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2017/3837194/.
Vickers, A J, et al. “Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: Individual Patient Data Meta-Analysis.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 22 Oct. 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22965186.