Is acupuncture an effective treatment for chronic pain? Over 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. Unfortunately, chronic pain not only affects your body physically but it will also take a toll on your mental and emotional health. People who suffer from chronic pain are in desperate search for a cure. While painkillers can help suppress the pain temporarily, being dependent on these drugs for pain relief is not healthy and neither is it safe. Based on surveys, family physicians say they don’t feel comfortable and confident in the methods they use to deal with patients with chronic pain.
Luckily, there is one form of therapy that has been recognized as safe and effective when it comes to dealing with chronic pain and that is none other than acupuncture therapy. According to research, patients who received acupuncture therapy were able to experience long-term benefits of the treatment.
What is acupuncture therapy and how does it work?
Acupuncture has been around for centuries. Although it has been dubbed as “old school” this form of therapy is still widely known and practiced today because it successfully treated a number of health problems. It offers numerous benefits like improving our overall health as it triggers our body’s natural healing process through the insertion of thin, sterile needles in specific areas in our body known as acupuncture points.
Some acupuncturists may also include heat, pressure as well as electrical stimulation to amplify the effects of the treatment. Other techniques used in these points include heat therapy, cupping, massage, and the use of liniments and herbal medicines. Acupuncture is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The philosophy of TCM is that your body has two different forces called the yin and the yang. When these two forces are in equilibrium you may consider yourself healthy. It is also believed that your body holds invisible pathways called meridians. Inside these pathways energy flows. In TCM, energy is called qi. When this energy flow is blocked it will result to pain.
Acupuncture helps relieve pain by removing the blockages within the meridians so that the energy flow will be restored. Once restored, health and wellness are achieved.
How is acupuncture performed?
During a session with your acupuncturist, he or she will obtain your health history by asking you a series of questions. He or she will also inspect and study your tongue (coating, color and shape) and check for your pulse. Aside from these, a physical evaluation will be made depending on your health problem. After obtaining important pieces of information based on your discussion and based on the tests and exams you took, your acupuncturist will come up with a treatment plan including the exact acupoints to stimulate. Majority of the patients who have tried acupuncture therapy say that they do not feel any discomfort since the needles are very fine and they are carefully placed. The needles are held there for about 5 minutes to half an hour. After an acupuncture treatment, patients say that they feel refreshed and relaxed.
How is this treatment effective in relieving pain? According to studies, pain relief is achieved through acupuncture because it allows your body to release endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals that naturally suppress pain. It also affects a specific part in your brain that controls the release of serotonin, a chemical that helps improve your mood.
Acupuncture is generally safe and the complication rate is dismissible. However, if you have reservations and doubts we believe doing your own research and reading about previous studies can help give you clarity about this form of treatment. Nevertheless, the important thing to remember is to find a reliable, seasoned, trained and experienced acupuncturist.