Acupuncture is best known for its ability to successfully treat pain. Pain itself is not a diagnosis, but rather an indication or warning that there is a problem somewhere in the body. Many times the exact location of pain points to where the problem is, as in the case of elbow pain above an inflamed tendon. But in other situations the site of pain may be related to problems far away, as in leg pain resulting from a herniated disk pushing on a nerve in the back. The intensity of the pain usually indicates or warns how severe the problem is. Each person has a different pain threshold, but pain levels that increase or do not lessen over time point to something that needs attention. And the circumstances surrounding the onset of the pain are just as important. Was there an accident or incident? Or did the pain gradually develop over a course of time or during a certain period of life? The characteristics of pain give important information about what is causing the body to send this signal. Once noticed, it is important to address the underlying problem that forced the body to send a pain message, not just turn down the discomfort. Otherwise the body will send out other warning signals until the core problem is corrected.
There are many therapies that attempt to stop pain. Most of them mask the pain while hoping the body is able to heal itself or push the body to heal faster while offering limited pain relief. Acupuncture is an extremely powerful and effective approach to treat pain because it decreases pain levels as it stimulates the body’s healing response. Acupuncture resolves pain by affecting several pain pathways and healing responses at the same time:
This varies considerably based on the specific condition being treated. Each person receives an individualized treatment plan based on age, past medical history, lifestyle, treatment goals and current pain status. Generally speaking however, acute pain (less than 3 months duration) is often resolved in a short series of treatments spaced close together and chronic pain requires consistent regular treatment to achieve long-term pain relief.
Almost every person finds acupuncture treatments to be very relaxing. Many do not expect this effect, especially dealing with painful conditions, but acupuncture balances various parts of the body together. This results in a person feeling calm, peaceful and very relaxed. Pain is stressful and can wear someone down causing irritability, tension and insomnia. By relaxing the whole person, acupuncture also helps eliminate these other negative aspects of pain. And it does so in a natural way, with no negative side effects. Acupuncture also looks at the entire person, not just the one part that hurts. This means an acupuncturist will offer suggestions for individual lifestyle improvements regarding exercise, supplements and diet, sleeping and stress management techniques to help a person improve health and decrease pain.