Photo credit: 123RF Stock Photo / Andriy Popov

Photo credit: 123RF Stock Photo / Andriy Popov

Do you suffer from chronic pain? Have you tried just about everything to relieve your pain with no success? Maybe it’s time for you to consider trying acupuncture.

Acupuncture is an alternative treatment traditionally used for centuries in Chinese medicine. Practitioners stimulate specific points on the body, called acupoints, by inserting thin, sterile needles into the skin. Practitioners also may apply pressure, heat, or electrical stimulation to further enhance the effects of the treatment.

Acupuncture is based on an ancient Chinese philosophy, which says the body (as well as the universe) contains two opposing forces – yin and yang. A constant flow of energy or “qi” (pronounced “chee”) travels throughout your body along meridians or specific pathways. When your qi is moving freely throughout your body, your yin and yang forces are in balance, and your body is healthy. But when your qi is blocked, your yin and yang are out of balance. Consequently, you can become sick or suffer from pain. But, when acupuncture needles are inserted into your acupoints, your qi becomes unblocked, so it can flow freely again.

According to neuroscienceacupuncture needles work by affecting the connective tissue under your skin. This process stimulates your nervous system. Your nervous system, in turn, stimulates your body’s natural self-healing response by releasing endorphins, disabling receptors, and activating anti-inflammatory chemicals.

Is Acupuncture Effective?

Photo credit: iStockphoto/Grafvision

Photo credit: iStockphoto/Grafvision

Acupuncture is used to treat many conditions and types of chronic pain, including:

  • Low back pain
  • Knee pain
  • Nerve pain
  • Headache
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Sport injury pain

According to a study published in the “Archives of Internal Medicine,” acupuncture has been found to be quite effective in relieving chronic pain. This study reviewed the treatment results of people suffering from back pain, neck, and shoulder pain, as well as pain from osteoarthritis and headaches. On average, the pain symptoms of study participants were reduced by half following acupuncture treatments.

Additionally, several other studies have found that acupuncture is effective in relieving low back pain, neck pain, knee pain, pain from osteoarthritis and headache. It can also help to improve the function and movement in your knees and lower back. Plus, acupuncture is relatively safe with few complications reported by patients.

How to Find an Acupuncture Practitioner

If you’re interested in trying acupuncture, talk to your doctor first. You shouldn’t try acupuncture if you have an infection, a bleeding disorder, or other health problems. Look for an acupuncturist who is certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Also, check to see if your state requires acupuncturists to have a license. If so, make sure your practitioner is licensed.

Note: Acupuncture is complementary medicine. Talk with your doctor first for an accurate diagnosis of your pain and a treatment plan before trying acupuncture. If your pain persists, talk with your doctor since it may be a sign of a more serious condition. 

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Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.