Acupuncture for Pain Management

Whatever the cause, if you are experiencing physical pain due to overuse, injury, strain, sprain, arthritis, remember that acupuncture is an excellent way to relieve pain and speed healing of injury. Less commonly known, acupuncture can also help improve athletic performance and prevent injury by assisting in keeping your body and immune system in balance.

Acupuncture for Pain Management: What You Need to Know

When it comes to pain, depending on the source, acupuncture will often facilitate and speed permanent healing and relief. It is not like taking an aspirin. The goal of acupuncture is to treat the source of the pain and allow the body to heal. Occasionally, there is damage that is not reversible. Extensive arthritis, for example, is generally not going to reverse itself. However, regular acupuncture treatments can significantly reduce the pain and discomfort associated with arthritis and can prevent further development of arthritis in the joints.

Acupuncture can reduce or eliminate many kinds of physical pain, not just musculoskeletal pain.  Pain from headaches, migraines, fibromyalgia, surgery, and menstrual pain are all commonly treated with acupuncture.

Acupuncture will most often reduce pain in a single visit. However, in most cases, the pain level will gradually begin to creep back up within 1-4 days. With each successive treatment, the pain level should be reduced further and should creep back more slowly. A course of treatment is complete when the pain no longer returns, and the number of treatments required varies based on the individual’s overall state of health as well as the degree and duration of the symptom. For best and quickest results, frequent treatments are encouraged. A second treatment should take place BEFORE the pain has a chance to reach its original intensity.

Here are some other strategies for managing pain:

1. Prevent injuries by using common sense! If you haven’t exercised since we last saw sunshine, don’t just start in with a full work out or a 10-mile run.  Start slowly and build up gradually. If you have pre-exisiting injuries or health conditions, always consult your physician or qualified health care provider before starting something new.  Be certain that you are trained in proper stretching techniques appropriate for the activity you engage in.

2. Stay well hydrated. This is important for many different types of pain.

3. Heat or ice? You will get a variety of answers to this question, and it is generally best to get professional advice based on your particular pain. As a general rule, Chinese medicine favors heat. Heat opens up the channels and blood vessels and promotes movement of qi and blood, which is almost always the primary treatment principle in relieving pain. If there is redness, swelling and heat coming from the area of pain, this would be a case where ice is more appropriate at first to reduce inflammation (and also probably a sign to get checked out by a doctor).  If your pain is worse in cold weather, heat is usually most appropriate.

4. Consider using other complementary techniques. For chronic pain conditions, seek out meditation, hypnosis, self-hypnosis, and related pain management techniques.

5. Watch what you eat. For arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other types of chronic pain conditions, diet can play an important role.  Seek the advice of an acupuncturist or holistic nutritionist for advice that is appropriate for your particular condition and body type.