Acupuncture and Successful Pain Management
Acupuncture treatment helps with pain management
Pain and conditions that cause pain, such as arthritis, are some of the most common conditions that people seek acupuncture treatment for. Research published in 2012, surveyed the members of the four main professional bodies relating to Acupuncture professionals in the UK . The responses were used to gain insight into the overall total number of acupuncture treatments and most frequently treated conditions. (The survey can be found in the Open British Medical Journal at http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/2/1/e000456.full ). Working on the assumption that frequency of attendance for problems indicates the likely scale of good outcomes, this puts back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain and knee pain as most frequently treated, followed by headaches, elbow pains and infertility, and completed by other arthritic problems, anxiety and stress.
It is interesting to note that in recent years, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines on best practice now recommend that GPs offer a course of 10 sessions of acupuncture as a first line treatment for persistent, non-specific low back pain (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence clinical guideline 88 – Low back pain www.nice.org.uk/CG88).
How does Acupuncture help reduce pain?
In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body’s homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being. Stimulation of certain acupuncture points has been shown to affect areas of the brain that are known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and deactivating the ‘analytical’ brain, which is responsible for anxiety (Wu 1999).
What are the possible benefits of having acupuncture for pain management?
- providing pain relief – by stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, acupuncture leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord (Pomeranz 1987; Zhao 2008).
- reducing inflammation – by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Kim 2008, Kavoussi 2007;Zijlstra 2003).
- improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility – by increasing local microcirculation (Komori 2009), which aids dispersal of swelling and bruising.
- reducing the use of medication for back complaints (Thomas 2006)
- providing a more cost-effective treatment over a longer period of time (Radcliffe 2006;Witt 2006).
- improving the outcome when added to conventional treatments such as rehabilitation exercises (Ammendolia 2008; Yuan 2008).
What can I expect from Acupuncture treatment for Pain?
- You can expect a full history to be taken, not only of your specific problem but your health in general.
- You may have needles in the local area ie where the pain is but you may also have them in other areas too.
- Depending on your specific condition, you may be treated with acupuncture, massage, moxabustion and cupping.