Acupuncture and Pain Management

Acupuncture has been used for managing the pain associated with headaches, backache, and other ailments for more than 2500 years. Acupuncture is rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine, which identifies a system of energy pathways in the body. The proper flow of this energy is needed in order for all organs and body systems to be in balance. This energy, or life force, is called Qi (pronounced like “chee”). In order to maintain or regain health, Qi must be able to flow freely throughout the body.

There are twenty pathways, or “meridians,” that must be kept clear for the energy to flow without blockage. The purpose of acupuncture is to correct any problem with the flow of Qi by inserting exceptionally thin, single-use, sterile needles into points along the meridians in a certain sequence in order to release blockages. There are 2000 possible points on the body that an acupuncturist can use to help the body maintain health, easing such ailments as headache or back pain.

Relieve Painful Headaches With Acupuncture

Headache pain can be debilitating, causing loss of income due to missed work days or reduced productivity. Western doctors usually treat severe headaches with a combination of medications and perhaps lifestyle changes in areas such as diet, stress reduction, and exercise.

Getting relief from chronic headache pain usually requires a combination of treatments. These treatments can include medication, meditation, counseling, yoga, exercise, and elimination of specific foods. Most chronic headache sufferers have to find which of these changes will best help them by trial and error.

When other remedies prove unsuccessful, migraine or tension headache sufferers often turn to acupuncture. Acupuncture can be of great help in these cases on its own and is especially effective in combination with other treatments. Migraine severity can be lessened by acupuncture, and it can also prevent further episodes of migraine pain. Acupuncture treatments for headaches are usually administered in frequent visits to a trained acupuncturist over the course of a few months. Once the pain is reduced or resolved, treatment continues periodically for maintenance of the flow of Qi that is essential for health and well-being.

Several studies have shown that using acupuncture for headache pain in combination with pain medication has better treatment outcomes than using medication alone. A recent peer-reviewed article by Dr. Albrecht Molsberger, an acupuncture specialist, includes a thorough summary of recent studies and trials on the effects of acupuncture vs placebos and other treatment options. These indicate that people undergoing treatment for pain from migraines report relief more often when using acupuncture than when not. Also cited is a study that compared acupuncture relief for migraine sufferers with the traditional beta blocker drugs used frequently for migraine pain. In that trial, eleven treatments by an acupuncturist spread out over six weeks were at least as effective as pain medication, but without all the side effects.

Acupuncture Works for Back Pain

Back pain is one of the leading types of crippling pain in our society. It is also one of the trickiest to treat. Lower back pain is often caused by injury to ligaments or muscles in the back. These injuries have a variety of causes, including poor posture, lack of regular exercise, improper lifting, broken bones, ruptured disks, or arthritis. While most lower back pain lessens or disappears on its own with rest in 2 to 4 weeks, sometimes the pain becomes chronic and debilitating. Typical Western treatments include medications and physical therapy, but patients are finding that pain can also be reduced in intensity and duration by acupuncture treatment.

A recent study from the American College of Physicians advises that medication should be the last resort for those with back pain and that physical therapy, acupuncture, yoga, and manipulation should be the first treatments you seek out. Dr. Tara Narula, Assistant Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Hofstra University and Associate Director of the Cardiac Care Unit at Lenox Hill Hospital/NSLIJ in Manhattan, recently appeared on the CBS Morning show and stated the findings.

The study found that back pain costs the economy $100 billion per year with most of that being lost wages. The study claims that 30% of adults report back pain that significantly affects their daily activities, including sitting, standing, or lying down. Acupuncture for back pain can both lessen the intensity of the pain and reduce the number of days it affects your activities. This study shows that acupuncture alone can actually be more effective than medication—even for chronic back pain (pain lasting longer than 3 months in duration).

It has taken many years for the Western medical profession to realize the benefits of this ancient acupuncture remedy for back pain, but it seems that acupuncture treatment is finally getting recognition for its role in reducing pain.

Is Acupuncture for Pain Relief in Your Future?

In a typical session, a licensed acupuncturist will place four or more needles along your affected Qi meridians in specific spots for 10 to 30 minutes at a time. Most people feel little or no pain with the insertion of the needles and in fact report a feeling of relaxation during the treatment. Some even fall asleep!

Frequent sessions are indicated at the beginning of treatment for back or headache pain and will decrease in frequency as pain subsides and a maintenance schedule is adopted to keep the pain at bay. Typically, at least twelve initial sessions are needed with periodic follow up thereafter. If you decide to give acupuncture a try for your headache or back pain, make sure you choose a practitioner who is certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

Pain Relief at Awaken Integrative Wellness

Come to Awaken Integrative Wellness in Media, PA to experience the healing effects of acupuncture for back and headache pain. We integrate the best of Eastern medicine into your Western treatment to create optimal outcomes for your painful conditions.