If you’ve never tried acupuncture before, the idea of it might be terrifying. How could having a bunch of needles stuck into your skin cure your pain? Isn’t acupuncture itself painful?
Well, it turns out that it doesn’t hurt nearly as much as you might imagine, and there’s proof that it actually could help with many types of pain.
Considering that acupuncture has been practiced for centuries, there must be something to it.
Many acupuncture enthusiasts swear by it, calling it a miracle cure for everything from allergies and depression to back pain and cramps.
Can acupuncture cure your pain? Let’s dive in and take a closer look.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an ancient form of Traditional Chinese Medicine that uses ultra-fine needles to stimulate acupuncture points throughout the body. Each acupuncture point contains a concentration of nerves that stimulate organs, glands, tissues, and a variety of other functions in the body.
Although the insertion of the needle causes little to no pain, it creates a tiny injury, causing the immune system to respond.
According to QJM: An International Journal of Medicine1, this immune response increases blood flow and circulation in the area, encouraging healing, reducing inflammation, and relieving pain.
Does Acupuncture Really Work for Pain?
The effectiveness of acupuncture has been well studied. In fact, the National Institute of Health2 considers acupuncture to be a practical choice for relieving chronic pain.
They base their conclusions on several studies that suggest that acupuncture is effective for relieving chronic pain in the neck and back, as well as joint pain from osteoarthritis.
The leading practitioners at WTHN Acupuncture3 also confirms that there is also evidence from that studies that acupuncture can reduce the length and severity of tension headaches and migraines which they have constantly seen in their experience of treating patients with acute migraine problem.
Pain Conditions that Can be Treated with Acupuncture
Thankfully, you no longer have to resort to taking addictive and dangerous drugs to get relief from chronic pain. Here’s a look at several pain conditions that may be improved with acupuncture treatments:
- Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is a common chronic pain problem that affects the day to day lives of many people. According to multiple studies and reviews4, acupuncture has been shown to be an effective treatment for lower back pain.
- Headaches and Migraines
Evidence shows that acupuncture is at least as effective, and maybe even more effective, as pharmaceuticals for preventing and relieving migraines (5). Other studies also show that acupuncture is beneficial for those who suffer from occasional or chronic tension headaches.
Acupuncture is useful for people who suffer from osteoarthritis in the joints, especially the knees. Studies also show that it may improve the quality of life for people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.
There is also considerable promise in the use of acupuncture for treating menstrual cramps, endometriosis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tennis elbow.
4 Important Advances in Breast Cancer Treatment through the Years
Breast cancer, which afflicts more than 7 million people around the globe, is the world’s most prevalent cancer and the most common form of cancer among women.
The Drawbacks of Conventional Pain Medications
Many people who suffer from chronic pain resort to over the counter and prescription pain medications on a daily basis. While these medicines do provide temporary relief, they also come with some very serious side effects.
Many people assume these drugs are safe because they can buy them at the store, or they were prescribed by their doctor. Unfortunately, that’s not the case at all.
Over the counter pain medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxen (also known as NSAIDs6) can cause damage to the liver or kidneys if taken for extended periods of time.
Some of them can also cause stomach issues that range from mild indigestion to ulcers. These effects are worsened when combined with alcohol, which some people use to self-medicate when they’re suffering from chronic pain.
Prescription painkillers are a blessing to those who live with pain after surgery, injury, or long-term illnesses like cancer.
However, they are also highly addictive, and they come with their own set of unpleasant side effects, including depression, drowsiness, nausea, and a weakened immune system.
Thankfully, acupuncture is becoming much more widely accepted as a way to manage chronic pain. In some cases, it may even be more effective and have longer-lasting effects than conventional medications.
How to Choose the Right Acupuncturist for You
If you’ve never been to an acupuncturist before, you may not know what to expect. Before you make an appointment, it’s essential to find an acupuncturist that’s right for you.
First, make sure that the acupuncturist is licensed and has the proper training and certification to practice acupuncture in your state. Of course, they should also be insured, just like any other healthcare provider.
If possible, choose an acupuncturist that specializes in your area of concern. Some practitioners specialize in sports injuries and chronic pain.
Others specialize in women’s health, which would be a great choice if you’re looking for relief from menstrual cramps or endometriosis.
Choose an acupuncturist that’s easy to talk to. It’s essential that you can communicate your concerns effectively. The acupuncturist shouldn’t feel rushed, and he or she should be willing to take the time to answer your questions.
And finally, make sure that the office, treatment room, and practitioner are clean. The treatment room should be comfortable and private so that you’ll be at ease during your session.
When you are forced to live with chronic or acute pain, you are willing to try almost anything to get relief. It may seem like your only hope is to take pharmaceutical medications that come with a serious risk of addiction and harmful side effects.
Thankfully, more and more people are discovering the benefits of acupuncture for relieving chronic pain in a non-invasive, safe, and natural way. If you are living with chronic pain, it might be worth giving acupuncture a try.