There are still many people that are uncertain what acupuncture actually does or why it is good, however, if there is one thing that acupuncture is widely know for, it is for the treatment of pain. Regardless of how holistic or intricate the medicine actually is, most people at least understand or have been told how acupuncture has and can help with pain relief. In fact, it is my opinion (mind you I am an acupuncturist) that acupuncture is one of the BEST modalities or treatments for any type of pain. The reason for this is many fold. To start with, acupuncture is free of external, man-made medications and thus, essentially free of negative side affect. This is one of the big attractions to acupuncture as it does not have negative effects when used skillfully, only positive effects. Another reason is that it is very effective. I have seen many people suffering with pain, mild or severe, come away from acupuncture treatment with great relief and actual resolution of the causative factor. This brings me to my next point. Acupuncture works with the body towards actually resolution and healing, not simply pain relief. After acupuncture, the person feels better because the body actually begins to heal properly. So, the root cause of the pain resolves which results in the dissipation of painful sensation. Anything from carpal-tunnel syndrome, jaw pain, neck, shoulder, low back pain, headache, fractures, bulging disks, hip pain… anything from soft tissue and muscles injuries, to more structural problems, acupuncture is greatly effective. Also, not only acute injuries from accidents or exercise injures can benefit, but also stubborn, long term problems that have lingered can be relieved. Personally, I will apply acupuncture to myself as soon as I feel slight discomfort in any part of my body in order to prevent it from progressing.
In order to grasp how acupuncture relieves pain and heals the body I will describe its use in treatment. In one part of an acupuncture treatment the patient will notice the acupuncture points being used on or in the area of discomfort or the “problem area.” This is the more obvious part, because the needle goes where there is pain. Now, what this is doing is causing a reaction. As we all know, every action has a reaction. So, when an acupuncture needle is put into… let say a shoulder… a reaction is created. The patients own energy responds and reacts to the needle, which in turn was inserted using the practitioners energy. This creates a relationship. Two energies, the practitioner and the patient, respond to each other. (For a more western mindset, one can think of the reaction similar to an immune reaction in which chemicals released attract other healing chemicals and cells to the affected area.) Now, this reaction is a tremendous healing reaction, as the movement of the patients energy and blood to and through the affected area reestablishes proper blood and energy flow, thus proper function of the channels or meridians of the body. Now, once this basic function is restored, then more largely physical and structural problems begin to heal due to the proper profusion through the area that once was stuck, stagnant, old, and potentially toxic. This is true for all problems of pain… muscular, skeletal, vascular, and nerve. The needle reacts with all of these tissues depending on where it is placed. When used properly, patients of stroke can have restored function, arthritic patients have decreased swelling and increased relief, and shoulder tension that has been present for years is removed. For the second part of the described treatment, acupuncture points near and far from the area will also be used. This is because to restore proper function of a specific location, the entire acupuncture channel needs to be activated for restoration and balance. This is why for shoulder pain one will notice points at the area of discomfort as well as down the arm, the elbow and even hand and fingers. It is by knowledge of the channels and meridians that the practitioner can reach all areas of the body… even internal organs.
In closing, if there are any further questions as to the workings of acupuncture or treatment please feel free to contact me or send me a message via email or facebook. There is a saying in Chinese medicine. “Where there is pain, there is lack of free flow… Where there is free flow, there is no pain.”