Acupuncture for Chronic Pain
January 7th, 2019
Acupuncture for Chronic PainHere’s the deal. Medical methods for treating chronic pain have been shown to cause a myriad of unwanted side effects, including addiction, ulcers, and liver damage. It’s no wonder that people have started seeking methods to alleviate their chronic pain outside their doctor’s office. While you doctor should be informed and involved in any methods you are taking to alleviate your pain, some of those may involve treatment outside of a medical doctor’s office. If you want to know how acupuncture for chronic pain works, keep reading.
Research has shown that acupuncture can be effective for chronic pain. Acupuncture is a near-ancient form of eastern medicine that may help block signals from nerve endings, or decrease their sensitivity. There are also more newly-developed techniques of acupuncture that are more western. The American Association of Family Practitioners had this to say about the efficacy of acupuncture for chronic pain: “The results confirm and strengthen previous key findings that acupuncture has a clinically relevant effect compared with no acupuncture control.”1 For more information on acupuncture and its effect on chronic pain, read the full research article at https://www.aafp.org/news/health-of-the-public/20180521acupuncture.html
Acupuncture for Inflammation
Inflammation is one of the primary causes of chronic pain. Most conditions that cause chronic pain also have a direct link to either localized or widespread inflammation. Acupuncture may cause the body to produce more cortisol, which can have a significant effect on the body’s inflammatory processes.2 The exact manner in which acupuncture works for inflammation is unknown. However, there is enough evidence to support that it can help for certain medical conditions which cause inflammation. The effect has been shown to be more helpful in some people than others. It should be noted that acupuncture only includes the use of dry needles. Needles treated with certain medicines and then inserted, while still unconventional, are still drug therapy.
Inflammation, as stated above, often goes hand-in-hand with chronic pain. “Simply put, inflammation is not natural. Your body’s natural state of being is not an inflamed one. When things swell, this puts pressure on nerve endings, causing pain in the area.” To learn more about why inflammation causes chronic pain, visit our article here. Many treatments have been shown to help with inflammation in the body, including both medicinal and supplement therapy. Omega-3 supplements especially have been shown to help reduce inflammation in the body. For a list of reviews of the most high-end omega-3 supplements, visit http://www.omega3benefit.com/reviews.php
Will Acupuncture help back pain?Acupuncture may not help every person’s back pain. However, it has been shown to improve pain and quality of life in many people. Many people with chronic low back pain have found the therapy to be helpful. Acupuncture for back pain involves the insertion of dry needles into specific, strategic trigger points to help relieve pain. While research on the topic is still growing, it is difficult to say with scientific certainty whether or not acupuncture will help your pain, most people had some varying levels of relief from acupuncture. There are currently over 400 acupuncture points cataloged for use in various health problems.
A well-accepted theory among many practitioners is that acupuncture releases endorphins and serotonin, which can play an important role in pain relief. According to the Mayo Clinic: “For now, most studies seem to indicate that, for most people, acupuncture results in some beneficial effect with a low risk of side effects when provided by a well-trained practitioner.”3 Unless there is an error made, and something like a spinal tap occurs by freak accident, there are no side effects to acupuncture because there are no substances being introduced into the body.
Back Acupuncture Points
There are points all along the spine to help alleviate back pain. There are particularly a lot of trigger points for lower back pain because it is the most common cause of chronic pain. Some of the points are along the spine, but what may seem very strange is that some of the points are nowhere near the spine. Some back acupuncture points include
- Hip Points
- Lower Back Points
- Foot Points
- Hand Points
- Behind The Knees
- Stomach Points
- The sympathetic nervous system
- The musculoskeletal system
- The endocrine system
There may be several reasons behind inserting the needles in various places rather than you would see in traditional medicine like nerve blocks. However, there are spots in each area that could help relieve pain there specifically.
Acupuncture for lower back painSince lower back pain is the most prevalent kind of pain, acupuncture is very developed in this area. Lower back pain can come in many different forms. From Degenerative disk disease to spondylosis, myelopathy, and many other spine and muscular problems that cause us lower back pain, different methods will be used.
Since there can be so many causes for lower back pain, it makes sense to have a lot of different back acupuncture points. If the problem is muscular, you may treat it differently as a practitioner of acupuncture than you would a nerve injury. Since lower back pain can come in so many forms, there are a wide variety of different techniques for alleviating it. You may have to try more than one way and talk to your practitioner about which kind of pain you have most.
Acupuncture points for SciaticaNow, according to some Chinese methods, sciatica can be relieved through trigger points in the foot. While this may seem strange, those points are at a specific set of muscles which engage with the spine. Also, most sciatica pain radiates to the foot. There is also a certain belief system associated with acupuncture, but is secondary and not really necessary to get you the benefit.4
Acupuncture operates under the theory that all pains operate under certain meridians of their own. These are pathways which can be accessed at stimulation of the end of the nerve root. Since the pain from the sciatic nerve typically runs into the feet, there may be some link behind their reasoning or theory. However, acupuncture has been shown to have a significant effect on back pain and sciatic pain. Much more than doing nothing at all.
Massage or Acupuncture for back pain?There’s really no reason one should be exclusionary for the other. If you find relief with massage, there’s no reason to not get a massage and acupuncture treatment. However, massage typically alleviates more short-term pain, and acupuncture should last somewhat longer.
Just like with Chiropractic Care, you are going to have to go through a set number of treatments to get the full benefit. It is unlikely that one treatment would have a dramatic effect on you. Acupuncture treatment can also be a restorative treatment on the nerves themselves. In short, if you are dealing with back pain, it is likely that both massage therapy and acupuncture will improve your pain, but massage will relax you and alleviate your immediate pains. The benefits of acupuncture may last a little longer.
How many sessions of Acupuncture for back pain?Because people have a large variety of responses to acupuncture, it’s really impossible to predict how much acupuncture sessions you might need. Around 10% of people are more sensitive to acupuncture, and will ultimately require less treatments because their bodies respond strongly to the treatment. Subsequently, there are also about 10% of people who are completely non-responsive to acupuncture therapy.
It is more likely that you will fall somewhere between these two extremes, and how many acupuncture treatments would be beneficial for you would only be able to be determined after you have seen how your body responds to the therapy. Everyone is different, and every practitioner is different. Hopefully you will find a treatment method that effectively releases your pain without having to go to more appointments than you want to pay for.