Fed Up With Pain? Acupuncture Can Help!

indeximagePain! How frustrating when you’re suffering from it, no matter the source.

Our bodies are not meant to be in chronic pain, but more than 100 million Americans deal with it at any given time, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine. This chronic pain comes with a price tag of about $600 billion per year in medical treatment and lost productivity. And this report didn’t include children or members of the military.

Much of this chronic pain is nerve pain. Nerve pain is especially difficult to treat with traditional pain killing medications. The typical pain killing medications include those that have been used for many years. These traditional medications for pain relief often have undesirable side effects that may slow recovery from the source of the pain.

Add to the above the fact that there is a great shortage of pain specialists in the U.S. and even less knowledge among general practitioners about pain. This explains why pain control issues make up seven of the top ten reasons people seek acupuncture treatment. As many as three million people in the U.S. visit acupuncture practitioners every year, the majority of them seeking pain relief.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been around for more than 2000 years for the treatment of many conditions, including pain control. In the United States, its use has been recognized since the 1970s, mainly as a way to control chronic and post-operative pain. Since that time, TCM has been found to promote homeostasis and tissue healing, along with balancing the immune, cardiovascular, and digestive systems. In 1997, the National Institute of Health recognized acupuncture as one of traditional Western medicine’s treatment options.

What Does A Practitioner Using Acupuncture Do?

Once a thorough examination including asking a lot of questions about your experience of pain is completed, your practitioner may also take your pulse at several places on both of your wrists. He or she will take a look at your tongue and its shape, color and any coating.  General observation of your skin, posture, and other characteristics will give an overall impression of your health.

The actual treatment itself consists of your practitioner inserting very thin needles at certain points on your body. These needles can then be twirled or jiggled. There should be very little, if any, pain when the needles are inserted. After all the needles are in, you’ll rest for a period of time. Your practitioner will take the needles out after that resting time is over.

At Results Acupuncture & Healing Arts Center, we usually know within 1-3 treatments if this medicine will work for you. When we have a good idea of how responsive you are, we’ll be able to estimate how many sessions will be needed to help you with your pain.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Exactly how acupuncture works to reduce your pain isn’t fully known. The ancient Chinese knew the insertion of needles at specific places on your body could bring about relief from pain as well as healing in other parts of the body. The ancient medical texts showed this to be due to improvement of the flow of oxygen (Qi) and nutrients (Ying Qi) through the blood vessel system (Xue Mai).

Today, researchers believe the needles, and other forms of acupuncture or acupressure, work on your nerve fibers signaling your spinal cord and brain to send out chemicals that help you feel less pain. Some studies have shown an increase in your pain threshold with acupuncture.

How does this happen? It appears that the nerve signals showing your brain where your pain is coming from are too weak. Thus, your brain doesn’t release the pain killing chemicals, like enkephalins.

Also, when you have an injury of any kind, your brain slows down blood flow to that site to prevent loss of blood. This is an automatic survival mechanism. It’s also the wrong thing to do if you want to heal faster and better naturally. All you need to heal is in your blood.

Acupuncture speeds up the slow nerve signals to tell your brain where your pain is coming from and to release the pain killing chemicals. It also causes the release of immune cells in your skin to deal with the micro-trauma of the needle stick. These immune cells also work to heal other areas of your body as they deal with the micro-trauma.

Is Acupuncture Effective?

Short answer: yes, for some types of pain and for some people.

Acupuncture is most effective on pain that comes from neuromuscular sources. There is evidence that acupuncture works to reduce the pain from fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and myofascial pain. Research has shown its effectiveness on the pain from trigeminal neuralgia (tic doloreux) and TMJ pain.

Postoperative pain has always been a major difficulty for physicians. More than 85% of patients report significant pain following surgery. The opioid medications typically used to treat this pain have very uncomfortable side effects. Using acupuncture has been shown to reduce the discomfort of these side effects and also has been shown to reduce the experience of pain following surgery.

When used as an added treatment with traditional pain medications in the treatment of low back pain, acupuncture brings some additional relief. Other research has shown acupuncture to be effective in reducing pain of migraine headaches and arthritis, as well.

One of the major benefits of using acupuncture for pain relief is the very low rate of complications resulting from the procedure. Overall, acupuncture is a very safe procedure.

At Results Acupuncture, Shifu Raymond Ahles will provide you the most up-to-date pain relief treatment possible using acupuncture. His professional training included extensive classroom and clinical hours leading to his licensure and board certification in acupuncture.