Treating Pain With Acupuncture

by Karen Lee Richards, ChronicPainConnection Expert

Although the use of acupuncture is still somewhat controversial in Western medical circles, a number of research studies have shown it to be an effective treatment for fibromyalgia and other chronic pain illnesses.  Acupuncture is one component of the practice of Chinese medicine.  Chinese medicine, in its entirety, includes acupuncture, moxibustion, herbal and dietary therapies, and Chinese exercise arts (like tai chi).  It is a system of health care that addresses the underlying causes of disease and thus can facilitate improvement in most conditions.

Chinese medicine, used in China for more than 5,000 years, is the oldest system of health care still practiced today.  Its scientific principles were developed through observation of the natural world and how the universe works.  There are basic laws of nature that rule everything from the smallest sub-atomic particle to the largest planet in the solar system.   Chinese medicine simply applies these natural laws to the human body in an effort to restore harmony between the internal energies of the individual and the external energies of the environment.  By restoring this energetic balance, the body is able to overcome illness at its root.

Chinese Medicine vs. Western Medicine

In order to understand how acupuncture works, it’s important to understand the differences between Western medicine and Chinese medicine.  One of the major differences is the way each looks at the body’s relationship to health and disease. 

  • Western medicine treats symptoms to fight disease; Chinese medicine increases health to unseat disease.
  • Western medicine looks for what “bug” is causing a disease; Chinese medicine looks for what weakness is causing an individual to be susceptible to a disease.
  • Western medicine is based on reductionism – breaking things down to observe each microscopic segment; Chinese medicine is based on unification – observing how entire systems work together and interrelate.
  • Western medicine sees health as an absence of symptoms or disease; Chinese medicine sees health as a balance of body, mind and spirit.
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