How Does Acupuncture Help Chronic Pain?

video-grab-painNeck and back pain is the number one issue most people in our country suffer from.  For almost 20 years, whenever I’m at a party and I’ve met someone new and they are told what I do, their reply is almost always, “I’ve got this little spot here (pointing while self massaging), can acupuncture help with that?”  My answer is always, always, always—a simple yes.

“Can you help neck pain?” Or  “What about ankle pain?”  Or “I pulled my hamstring, can you help that?” The answer is YES, YES, YES!   Acupuncture and pain relief go hand in hand.  And for the sake of a better term, acupuncture has become ‘famous’ because of our ease in treating pain. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can treat ANY pain ANYWHERE in the body!

Back, neck, shoulder pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, hip pain, ankle pain, muscle pain, headaches, migraines, abdominal pain, menstrual cramps, any pain, including fibromyalgia or even phantom pain!

In fact, using acupuncture for pain relief is the number one modality in America today. Keep in mind, we see all kinds of patients dealing with pain; from hairdressers (neck/upper back pain) to computer programmers (neck/upper back pain or carpal tunnel issues) or professional athletes (usually 10 different places at once) to stay at home Moms (neck/back/hip pain), we see them all.

What’s different about how we treat pain?

What’s different about how WE treat pain is, unlike most acupuncturists, we NEVER insert needles where the patient is experiencing the actual pain.  From our Taiwanese Master, the late Dr Richard Tan, he always said, “Don’t hurt the baby when he’s sick.”  This can potentially cause trauma to an already traumatized area, instead we trust the meridian or pathway system and insert needles elsewhere creating a clear path for healing to occur. The way we utilize using acupuncture for pain is a very unique method.

How many treatments do I need?

Cartoon on Back Pain treatment with acupuncture

Patients coming to Tao to Wellness to receive acupuncture for pain relief almost always notice a difference in intensity or location of pain right after their very first session and most times they will notice a difference during their session.

That being said, the work lies in retraining your body to ‘hold’ the session.  If you’re curious how many treatments you’ll need this all depends upon the duration, severity, and nature of the pain at hand. Generally, when dealing with acupuncture for pain, 10 to 20 treatments are adequate for the majority of chronic disorders. Some acute conditions may only require a single treatment and some degenerative conditions may require as many as 40 treatments.  For example, Patient A has been experiencing knee pain for 10 years, it’s constant and is excruciating after a long run of 12 miles and he does this run about 4 times a week.  Patient B also has knee pain, she injured it during a dance recital two weeks ago, it feels achy and won’t go away.  Patient C has knee pain too, also for 10 years but it comes and goes, this person is active, but not a runner and doesn’t overdo it.

Obviously, Patient B will need less treatments, but between Patient A and C?  Patient A will need many more because of all of the miles of running each week, most likely his or her body is attempting to fix the issue itself, but this person may be reinjuring it with each run.  Patient C’s issue also comes and goes, which tells me the imbalance is less fixed in the body than Patient A’s.   All that being said, each body is different and although these are clues as to how the healing process sometimes we are surprised and Patient C may heal the fastest.  We never know until after a few treatments, everyone’s response can be so different.

Research on Acupuncture

Scientists are consistently intrigued by how acupuncture works, so research studies are always taking place nationally and internationally.  A study done in 2003 looked closely at the efficacy of acupuncture and neck pain.  One hundred and seventy two patients ranging from 20-70 years old participated.  The study was in total 6 years in length and participants in the acupuncture control group had an average of 6 treatments, sufficient follow up over time was conducted to asses the lasting effects of acupuncture.  In conclusion, among all the modalities in the study; analgesic, TENS unit and acupuncture, patients in the acupuncture group reported 68% more benefit with acupuncture.

Why choose acupuncture for pain management as opposed to other alternative modalities?

Unlike other modalities we have the ability to impact the body on many different levels.  The superficial muscle layer, the Qi and Blood circulation, the deeper essence, the bones and surrounding joint capsule comprising of tendons, cartilage and fluids and finally, the organ system itself. What does this mean?  Basically that although we are treating ‘pain’, we are treating a whole slew of other things at the same time that could be a contributor to that pain.  So, in addition we can decrease inflammation systemically, calm the nervous system, regulate hormones, balance the brain chemistry and so on. This in turn brings a total body healing to the patient, which creates an avenue for deeper sleep, more vitality, a stronger digestion, flowing circulation and a balanced and happy brain! Choosing acupuncture for pain relief is the best choice!

Runner without chronic back pain

In a nutshell…

  • Acupuncture can treat any pain, anywhere.
  • You will notice a difference right after your first session.
  • Acupuncture for pain is the number one chosen modality in America over chiropractic and physical therapy because of its ability to treat the WHOLE body at the same time.
  • If you are dealing with other issues (sleep, digestion, energy or stress related), we can address those at the same time so you especially want to seek out acupuncture for pain relief.
  • Acupuncture is a great way to PREVENT repetitive stress injuries, basically anyone who works at a computer needs to get acupuncture at least once a month.

People will approach us just about anywhere and ask, “Can you help neck pain?” Or  “What about ankle pain?”  Or “I pulled my hamstring, can you help that?” The answer is YES, YES, YES!   Acupuncture and pain relief go hand in hand!

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can treat ANY pain ANYWHERE in the body!  Back, neck, shoulder pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, hip pain, ankle pain, muscle pain, headaches, migraines, abdominal pain, any pain!  In fact, using acupuncture for pain relief is the number one modality in America today. Keep in mind, we see all kinds of patients dealing with pain; from hairdressers to computer programmers or professional athletes to stay at home Moms, we see them all.