Pain, and especially chronic pain, is by far the most common motivator that brings people into my practice. Of course, since I work out of a Chiropractor’s office it is only natural to see a fair number of painful muscular-skeletal conditions.
Fact is, that pain is a major health problem that not only has social and economic consequences, but also affects a person’s quality of life. According to a 2010 study, we spend 560-635 billion dollars annually on pain management and the number may be quite a bit higher by now. I can assure you that only a droplet of that is spend on acupuncture and alternative modalities, as much as I wish it were different. First line of treatment still focuses on pharmaceuticals, followed by injection therapy and lastly surgery. But none of these guarantee positive and lasting results, and some actually have dangerous side effects.
The good news is that some hospitals such as the Mayo Clinic and the VA hospital, have started to work with acupuncturists in-house and on referral basis, due to the encouraging results of numerous research studies involving acupuncture and the treatment of low back pain, osteoarthritis, cancer related- and post-operative pain.
Acupuncture does work! In fact, when people come in with acute injuries or pain, 1-2 treatments can resolve the issue completely. Unfortunately, most of my patients seek me out as the “last resort” after having tried everything else. These chronic cases can still be helped, but require a series of treatments to improve and stabilize – usually between 6-12 treatments.
Given the nature of pain, location and underlying issues, acupuncture may not be able to resolve pain in all cases completely, but it will help with pain management and also address other affected areas such as sleep, appetite, mood and improves a patient’s overall quality of life.
How exactly does acupuncture treat pain! There is still so much about this medicine that we don’t understand and that seems to be shrouded in “mystery”. (talking about Qi/life force, yin yang balance etc.). Traditional Chinese Medicine is a complete medical system that has been practiced for over 5000 years; and while the technique and protocols have not changed, the language has. We have a completely different understanding of the human body and different names for anatomy and physiology.
In TCM language, acupuncture works by inserting fine, sterile needles at specific points along so-called “meridians” (pathways) to balance the body’s energy or life force, known as Qi (chee).
Through research and modern diagnostic tools, we now have established that the strategic placement of needles stimulates nerves, muscles and connective tissue, triggers an inflammatory response which starts the repair and healing process, increases circulation and further activates the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers.
Pain Conditions Acupuncture can treat:
- Low Back Pain
- Knee and Shoulder Pain, Frozen Shoulder
- Neck Pain, Upper Back Pain
- Labor Pain
- Chemotherapy-induced and postoperative pain
- Menstrual cramps
Important for best results is that patient and practitioner work together and also explore additional, complementary modalities that will benefit the overall treatment course. These can include, massage, cupping, body work (Egoscue, Feldenkrais, Rolfing), herbs and nutrition as well as LED light therapy.
Unfortunately, Acupuncture is still not the first place patients look to for the treatment of pain or any other condition. What I find keep many away from giving it a try is the “fear of needles”!
I hope with more education and positive testimonials, more people will find their way to acupuncture and get help sooner rather than later!
I am always here for a free consultation to discuss your personal concerns and help you decide!
1 tbsp astragalus (cut)
1/2 tsp dried or fresh ginger
1tbsp cinnamon chips
1tsp cardamom podd
1tbsp black tea
Place all ingredients in a pan
Add 2 1/2 cups of water
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes
Strain, then add milk (milk of your choice) to taste
Sweeten with honey or stevia