Is Acupuncture an Effective Tool for Your Chronic Pain Treatment Toolbox?

I recently wrote an article for New Life Outlook on the benefits of acupuncture for chronic pain, including different types of acupuncture you may want to consider:

Acupuncture is the therapeutic use of very thin, hair-width needles to stimulate specific points on the body in order to reduce pain or disease and promote wellbeing. You may be thinking “But I hate needles; this sounds too painful!”

In my own experience, the needle insertion feels like a slight pinch, which disappears in a few seconds. If there is any discomfort, the acupuncturist will remove the needle.

After insertion, you usually cannot feel the needles. Occasionally, there may be a sense of warmth or heaviness around the insertion point. The needles are typically left in for 15-30 minutes while you rest.

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture has been used for over 3,000 years and is an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In this medical system, health is understood as achieving balance between opposing forces (yin and yang).

Traditionally, essential life energy, called ‘qi’ (chee) is believed to flow along channels in the body called meridians, keeping yin and yang balanced. Acupuncture points are mapped along meridians — if the flow of qi is blocked, it causes pain and disease (imbalance).

Stimulating acupuncture points restores the flow of qi along the meridians, improving the health of the individual and restoring balance.

A Western Approach

Western medicine offers a different perspective on how acupuncture works. Scientific studies demonstrate that acupuncture points are often located on nerve bundles or muscle trigger points.

Acupuncture has been found to increase blood flow to tissues around the acupuncture point, promote healing of localized tissues, and affect the central nervous system. Some of the nervous system effects include down-regulating pain sensation, encouraging a relaxed brain state, and calming the autonomic nervous system.

However, some skeptics believe these findings only demonstrate a strong placebo response to acupuncture…

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