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Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs for Pain

 
Acupuncture for Pain

Acute and chronic pain syndromes have an enormous impact on individual, national, and global levels. In the United States, chronic pain is the third most common health-care problem, behind heart disease and cancer, with the combined annual costs of lost work days, doctor visits, hospital stays, pain-reducing drugs, and disability totaling an estimated $100 billion.

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. 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. Sometimes, pain can be a manifestation of emotional or psychological problems which cannot be found with X-rays, MRI's, and lab tests.

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.

To date, Conventional medicine has not had a great deal of success in providing substantial pain relief solutions. The most popular form of treatment is through pain medication and anti-inflammatory drugs. Unfortunately, these options are masking the pain only rather than addressing the main cause of pain. They not only have the potential to become addictive but also often produce side effects mo

Acupuncture is a holistic method of encouraging the body to promote its own natural healing and to improve overall functioning. The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the body to produce natural steroids and release endorphins. Steroids decrease inflammation, while endorphins inhibit pain. These substances are 50 to 100 times more potent in relieving pain than many prescription drugs, and play an integral part in the elimination of the pain cycle.

 

Mechanism of Pain in TCM

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the proper functioning of human body depends on Qi, the vital energy of the body. The Qi and blood flow through the meridian system, nourishing and protecting body tissues and helping them maintain their functions.

If the body is beset with disease or injury, normal pathological symptoms will appear and affect the organs and meridian. Once the meridian is blocked, the Qi and blood are not able to move along smoothly. As a result, the affected area will not be able to get enough nutrition. In response, the patient feels pain, stiffness, tingling, or numbness. Hence the old TCM saying,

"If there is a blockage, there is pain. If there is no blockage, there is no pain."

The meridian system is like a network. Each meridian is connected with a specific internal organ. The organ damage may show up from the meridian, and the local blockage of the meridian can affect the internal organ as well. That is why in TCM, when treating a pain condition, the acupuncturist will not usually only focus on just the local pain, but also (sometimes more importantly) work to balance and harmonize the whole body.

Meridian blockage can be caused by external reasons such as excessive cold, wind, dampness, dryness, fire (heat) or traumatic injury. It also can be caused by emotional change such as anger, sadness, fear, stress, depression, as well as an internal organ deficiency or malfunction.

Figuring out what exactly is the cause of the pain and which meridian is blocked is extremely important in treating pain. Generally speaking, TCM treats pain by relieving blood and Qi stagnation, increasing circulation, nourishing the tissue, building up deficient organs, and balancing and harmonizing the whole body system. Acupuncture can be used to correct the flow of Qi; Herbal medicine can be used to re-establish and balance Qi, blood and moisture in organ networks, in order to avert pathological factors.

 

Acupuncture Can Treat

  • Arthritis / Osteoarthritis
  • Back pain
  • Bone Spur
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Elbow pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Foot pain / Plantar fasciitis
  • Headaches / Migraines
  • Knee pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Neck pain / Whiplash
  • Post-surgical pain
  • Sciatica, hip pain, leg pain
  • Shoulder pain, Frozen shoulder
  • Sports / Work / Auto Injuries
  • Sprains / Strains
  • Tendonitis
  • TMJ
 

Pain Management with Acupuncture

Acupuncture is best known for its ability to successfully treat pain. Acupuncture is a safe, painless alternative, and a very effective procedure for eliminating or relieving pain.

By inserting fine, sterile needles at specific points on the body, an acupuncturist is able to break up blockages that have hampered the smooth flow of Qi. Proper flow of Qi helps circulation of the blood through the meridians and tissues, alleviating pain. Not only teating signs and symptoms of pain and discomfort, acupuncture can treat it can also get to the root of the problem. When the original cause of the pain is corrected, the body can begin to heal on deeper levels.

According to the extensive review of the scientific evidence for acupuncture by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)1 in 1997, there is clear evidence in support of acupuncture's efficacy for acute and chronic conditions that benefit from the control of pain and inflammation, enhanced circulation, endocrine and immune function and the reduction of stress. Acupuncture can also greatly enhance the effect of other therapies, as well as reducing unwanted side effects from conventional medicine.

Upon your first visit, your acupuncturist will review your case history; gain a thorough understanding of your goals; and examine your whole system. Once your acupuncturist gets idea on the underlying causes or problems that have not yet shown up as a symptom, and/or subtle signs of imbalance that indicate future illness, each patient will receives an individualized treatment plan based on age, past medical history, lifestyle, treatment goals and current pain status.

Treatment usually includes a combination of acupuncture, electrical stimulation, moxibustion, cupping, massage, and Chinese herbal medicine. Your acupuncturist will also give suggestions for individual lifestyle improvements regarding exercise, supplements and diet, sleeping and stress management techniques to help you improve health and decrease pain.

 

Benefit of Using
Acupuncture for Pain

  • Stimulates the body's natural healing
  • Quickly reduces pain and inflammation, and relaxes muscle
  • Increase the circulation to speed up recovery time
  • Enhanes the endocrine and immune function
  • Maintains longer positive results and prevents recurrence
  • Reduces pain without the prolonged use of drugs and surgical intervention
  • Promotes physical and emotional well being
  • Fully integrates with other therapies
  • Cost effective
 
Resouces

NIH Health information - Acupuncture: In Depth

Acufinder Learning Center: Pain

Acupuncture may offer real relief for chronic pain

More evidence acupuncture can ease chronic pain

 
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