Acupuncture for Pain Management

For centuries, those of us in the West have considered Chinese medicine and acupuncture a mere curiosity; interesting, yet hardly of real value in the face of “Modern Science” and “Western Medicine”. (And yes, I used caps on those phrases deliberately, and somewhat facetiously.)

However, in my own practice and according to many sources, among them the medical website WebMD.com, acupuncture has today become “widely accepted among the medical community. And it’s pretty popular with patients as well. A recent survey found almost 3.5 million Americans said they’d had acupuncture in the previous year.”

As further proof of the efficacy of acupuncture as a healing treatment, the author goes on to say, “In 1996, the FDA gave acupuncture its first U.S. seal of approval, when it classified acupuncture needles as medical devices. In the 20 years since, study after study indicates that, yes, acupuncture can work.”

Acupuncture in Pain Management Research

Among the research and studies mentioned is this one: Acupuncture in Pain Management, by Jonathan Wilkinson, MB ChB MRCP FRCA and Richard Faleiro, BSc (Hons) DCH FRCA. (OxfordJournals.org)

Here, the authors describe the use, and explore the value of, acupuncture in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as a “complementary therapy that is being increasingly used in the day-to-day management of pain.”

While the authors of the study go into great detail about the possible medical and scientific reasons for the ways in which acupuncture might affect the body, the how and why of the biology if you will, that information is far too deep to explore here. Stated simply, the placing of needles in specific locations of the body, known as meridians, enhances the flow of energy to areas that have experienced an interruption of energy. This can reduce inflammation, promote self-healing, and relive pain.

What can be said is this: In my practice, I use acupuncture and TCM to effectively manage pain in many patients who have been unable to find relief through other, more traditional pain management therapies. It is gratifying that the research is finally beginning to reflect the benefits that my patients and I have so long known about.

For the curious: I’m sure that many of you who have been watching this year’s Olympics from Rio de Janeiro are curious about the bruising you’ve seen on many of the athletes, especially the swimmers; those perfectly round discolorations on shoulders and backs that look a bit like a rather large hickey.

Known as “cupping,” the bruises are caused by a recovery therapy designed to help remove lactic acid from the muscles after particularly strenuous exercise. Made popular by Olympic medal record-holder Michael Phelps, glass or plastic cups are applied to the skin along the meridians of the body, creating suction as a way of stimulating the flow of energy. Cupping may also be used for pain management, inflammation, blood flow, relaxation, and well-being, and as a type of deep-tissue massage.

For more on the value of acupuncture for pain management, feel free to click on the links to the articles above, or read my blog post from July, titled Medical Acupuncture: A Brief Introduction.

Do you have more questions about pain management using acupuncture, and how it might benefit you? If so, click here to contact Dr. Shiroko today.

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