In my 25 years of practicing acupuncture, probably more that 2/3 of my patients have seen me for pain relief. Acupuncture does many things well, but it is best known for its ability to eliminate or manage pain. How does it do this? Below are 5 brief explanations.
- Acupuncture blocks pain signals so they do not reach the brain.
- Acupuncture reduces the perception of pain in the brain.
- Acupuncture stimulates the production of endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers.
- Acupuncture eliminates trigger points, tender areas in the muscles and fascia that cause local or referred pain. They are responsible for what doctors call “myofascial pain.” Trigger point therapy is one of my areas of expertise.
- Acupuncture reduces pain by moving blocked energy. This is the traditional Oriental view. The body is animated by energy, called “chi” in Chinese. This energy is the life force of the body. It moves through channels called meridians, and when its flow is blocked for whatever reason, pain and dysfunction result.
It is important to realize that acupuncture was effective at relieving pain before these theories were developed. They are simply attempts to explain why.
Acupuncture does not just relieve pain but in many cases also promotes the healing process. When the energy is flowing properly, the body is empowered to heal itself. Empirical evidence supports this.
How Many Treatments?
For acute conditions, such as injuries, permanent pain relief often results after only a small number of treatments. For chronic conditions, progress is slower but progressive. After a series of treatments, some patients are pain free and stay that way. Others may need periodic follow-up treatments to manage the pain in a drug-free way, especially if there is a permanent orthopedic problem.
I have scores of testimonials from patients who experienced significant pain relief.
Here is an older (and longer) article on Acupuncture and Pain.