Acupuncture: An Alternative for Treating Chronic Pain
If you think that acupuncture won’t work for you, think again. This alternative treatment offers so much more than just sticking a needle in where it hurts. Before scientific evidence even existed, millions of people utilized acupuncture in order to treat pain and many other physical ailments. Because of its effectiveness, acupuncture has withstood the test of time. It withstands the test of science too.
Multiple studies have shown that the mechanism of pain relief from acupuncture is through the opioid system in the body. Essentially this treatment activates the same system that opioid pills like hydrocodone and morphine activate. Similarly, the pain relief from acupuncture like the pain relief from opioid pills is reversible and/or blocked by Naloxone. Because acupuncture can stop pain signals from occurring, it continues to be a viable option for controlling pain today as it was centuries ago. (1)
Despite what you might think, there is more to it than just sticking a needle in where it hurts. A variety of acupuncture methods seek to rebalance life-energy flows such as yin, yang and qi. An acupuncture practitioner will seek to make a deeper diagnosis by evaluating the 5 elements of earth, metal, wood, fire and water that influence an individual. Then, by utilizing the meridians that stretch across the whole body, needles are placed at very specific points to help bring the elements and the energies into balance and harmony. Many acupuncturists will also utilize some type of stimulation like electricity or heat in order to enhance the effectiveness of a session.
The most important way that you can be assured that your acupuncture sessions will be effective is by finding a certified and competent practitioner. Since 1982 there has been a National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine that oversees the competency level of acupuncturists. You can look up specific people or find certified people in you area. Additionally, some states have governing boards for acupuncture. The California State Acupuncture Board is an example.
As you can see acupuncture is not without scientific merit and is worth considering. There is a vast sea of people that offer to stick needles in where it hurts, but now you know that there is more to it than that. By finding a competent practitioner in the field of Eastern Medicine, you can experience an alternative treatment for chronic pain that has been utilized for centuries.
1: Sheng-Xing, Ma; Neurobiology of Acupuncture; Evidence Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine; 2004; June: 41-47
Christina Lasich, M.D., wrote about chronic pain and osteoarthritis for HealthCentral. She is physiatrist in Grass Valley, California. She specializes in pain management and spine rehabilitation.