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How Acupuncture Works to Relieve Chronic Pain

While acupuncture has a long tradition of providing chronic pain relief to people all over the world, its benefits are just beginning to be studied by Western health professionals. So far, the evidence is promising—by encouraging your body to heal itself, acupuncture can offer long-lasting relief.

Living with chronic pain can be debilitating. Even if your doctor prescribes medication to relieve your pain, these pills only offer temporary relief and may carry the additional risk of side-effects, dependency or addiction. Rather than simply trying to suppress the pain, acupuncture seeks to address the underlying cause of your pain. Acupuncture attempts to restore and activate your body’s natural ability to heal itself, bringing you long-lasting relief from your chronic pain. While the healing benefits of acupuncture are just beginning to be studied by Western health professionals, acupuncture has long been used throughout the world to help people with chronic pain find relief and balance within their bodies, minds, and spirits. This post will take a look at the ways in which acupuncture can help the body reconnect with its potential to heal itself, leading to long-lasting relief from chronic pain.

Chronic Pain is a Widespread Problem

It is estimated that nearly one-third of Americans experience chronic pain, and women are more likely than men to report experiencing chronic pain. Common types of chronic pain include back pain, neck pain, headaches, joint pain, arthritis, and fibromyalgia. “Chronic pain” is pain that persists after an initial injury has healed. It can last for weeks, months, or even years after an injury occurred. Or, it may be unrelated to any injury. More recently, research has been done to determine whether chronic pain may be associated with disruption of the brain’s pathways for mapping sensory information. Acupuncture may offer a way to trigger the body’s natural healing processes and message the brain in such a way as to disrupt feelings of chronic pain.

How Acupuncture Can Help

The exact science of how acupuncture relieves chronic pain is not fully understood. According to traditional Chinese medicine theory, acupuncture aims to restore the body’s natural energy flow by balancing the life force, known as qi (pronounced “chi”). Neuroscientists have also looked into the mechanisms of action in acupuncture, positing that acupuncture points are typically places where nerves, connective tissue, and muscles can be stimulated to increase blood flow. This increased blood flow can trigger the body’s natural “painkillers,” flooding the brain with healing and calming neurotransmitters and providing relief from pain. In fact, findings from 2017 state, “Mounting evidence supports the effectiveness of acupuncture to treat chronic low back, neck, shoulder, and knee pain, as well as headaches.” This same report shares that the mechanisms of action during acupuncture treatments can suppress pain sensors in the cerebral cortex and spinal cord and regulate major inflammatory factors in the spinal cord and other areas.

Finding Relief at Last

As each individual experiences chronic pain differently, your first session with your acupuncturist will typically involve an assessment of your condition and a discussion of your wellness goals. Based on this intake session, your acupuncturist will recommend a specific treatment plan that involves a number of acupuncture sessions, as well as any necessary supplemental herbs or nutritional and lifestyle recommendations. In most cases, clients are treated on a weekly basis for five to ten weeks, and then receive follow-up sessions as needed. Ultimately, the goal is to address the root causes of chronic pain for long-term healing and wellness.

To learn more about how acupuncture can help to address your chronic pain, contact Inner Works Acupuncture today at (503) 227-2127 to make an appointment.

Acupuncture for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms include sleep issues, anxiety, avoidant behavior, and other complex emotions. Research shows that acupuncture sessions can relieve PTSD symptoms and modulate the limbic system, bringing the body back into balance.

Acupuncture for Sciatica

For those who suffer from sciatic pain, acupuncture can offer a natural and holistic alternative for finding relief. Discuss your unique health needs with an acupuncturist who will work with you to develop a customized treatment plan.

What is Moxibustion and Why is It Used?

Acupuncture has a powerful sister that gets much less attention in the West, called moxibustion. Ancient and equally potent, acupuncture and moxibustion go hand-in-hand in east Asian traditional healing. The Chinese word that we translate as “acupuncture”, zhenjiu 针灸, actually refers to both acupuncture and moxibustion together (literally, it means “needle moxa”).