Since the 1970s, when Traditional Chinese Medicine brought acupuncture to the United States, Western scientists have wondered exactly how this phenomenon helps people with chronic pain and other health conditions.
It has become popular among American patients, who haven’t waited for the research articles to come out in order to seek the advice and treatment of acupuncturists when things like conventional medicine hasn’t done anything to help cure their pain.
According to a national health survey in 2002, about 8.2 million US citizens have tried acupuncture at least once. This compared to only 2.1 million people who used acupuncture in the year before that.
Uses For Acupuncture
Besides chronic pain, acupuncture has been tried and in some cases has been found to be helpful in treating a variety of conditions, including problems with addiction, headache pain, stroke issues, chronic tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, menstrual cramps, chronic low back pain, osteoarthritis, asthma, infertility, carpal tunnel syndrome, side effects from cancer therapy, and pregnancy-related problems.
The uses of acupuncture seem to be endless. People are using it for acute sports injuries, chronic pain, for emotional difficulties and other health problems.
Science And Acupuncture
There have been many technological advances that have helped scientists understand the mystery behind this centuries-old practice. Scientists are coming closer to finding out how a simple acupuncture needle can adjust the tissues of the body, including the nervous system and the hormonal system.
Certain uses of acupuncture, such as for chronic pain, have given a thumbs up to acupuncture by the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health.
What Acupuncture Can Do For Chronic Pain
Modern pain relievers are not without side effects, especially when used for chronic pain. Some have even been pulled from the market so that sufferers of chronic pain have fewer alternatives in dealing with their pain. This is a good reason to try acupuncture for the management of chronic pain. The side effect rate is much lower than most of the medications you would use for chronic pain.
Acupuncture works by the insertion of many very thin needles in specific areas of the body. The areas you have pain aren’t necessarily the places where the needles are inserted. The action of acupuncture, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, is to free up areas of life energy or “qi” that has become blocked somewhere along energy highways called “meridians.” The use of the acupuncture unblocks qi energy, resulting in biochemical and other changes in the body that affect diseases.
In one study on patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, acupuncture was used and found to be as helpful as pain medication in controlling pain. Acupuncture can safely be used along with other modalities for chronic pain, such as ice, heat, or pain medications.
This study just paves the way for other research studies that can be done on other types of chronic pain being treated through the use of acupuncture. As of now, there is no reason to think that acupuncture won’t work on other types of chronic pain besides knee arthritis.
Acupuncture also works for signs and symptoms of cancer, including cancer pain, nausea, and vomiting. The acupuncture needles are put in different places if the needles are to be used for the pain of cancer or if they are used for the nausea and vomiting of cancer treatment. The acupuncturist knows exactly where to place the needles for the various symptoms. The National Institutes of Health has approved acupuncture to be used along with anti-nausea medications, which seems to be able to work better than just taking the medication alone.
Acupuncture also seems to work on the pain due to spasticity from stroke. It seems to work on those who have just had their stroke as well as those who have had their strokes many years in the past. Spasticity leads to pain because it causes chronic muscle spasm that leads to pain.
Finding A Good Acupuncturist
If you have chronic pain, it might be a good idea to find a certified acupuncturist who can help you. Talk to your regular doctor to see if they have a referral for you. A certified acupuncturist goes through many thousands of hours of training to be able to do what they do. A good acupuncturist will be state-licensed as a sign they have the training and expertise to help you.