According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, it is estimated that over 20 million Americans experience pain in their daily lives. Keep in mind that this number may be low because not every American is going to fill out a survey.
Western medicine offers little support. They can give pain medicine and steroid shots. Steroid or cortisone shots are used for temporary relief, and there is little evidence showing that they can be helpful for long-term relief. There are hundreds of pain medications, but these can have serious side effects ranging from addiction to stomach ulcers from NSAIDs.
Pain affects people’s daily habits, can make relationships strained, and work challenging. People who are in chronic pain are more likely to have other ailments. Most people who do not seek treatment in their acute phase will develop long-term chronic pain.
Read further to understand how acupuncture relieves chronic pain.
What Can Acupuncture Do for Pain?
More and more people are seeking acupuncture for pain relief rather than pain medication. When we talk about pain in Chinese Medicine, we may use terms like Qi Stagnation, Blood Stagnation, or Cold Bi Obstructing the channel. A Bi is an obstruction. Sometimes it can be seen by the visible eye, but often not. An experienced acupuncturist may palpate the Bi, which is lodged in the channel.
The blockage obstructs the flow in the channel, creating some kind of symptom elsewhere in the channel that often manifests in pain. This is why the acupuncturist may not needle where the pain is being felt, but elsewhere on the body.
Another reason the acupuncturist may not needle at the location of pain is because we want to move the stagnant Qi down the channel to ease the pain.
Five Root Causes of Pain
Below are five possibilities that are the root cause of your pain and how acupuncture can help relieve chronic pain.
In one word: SUGAR. Sugar is an inflammatory. The first thing you can do for yourself is get off it. No sodas, no adding sugar to your drinks, no processed foods, etc. Acupuncture can help ease the cravings of sugar.
It’s an unfortunate reality that work is often the culprit to chronic pain. Slouching at a computer or having a labor-intensive job can keep you in your configuration of pain. Under the umbrella of Chinese Medicine, I offer Qigong exercises that can help balance your lifestyle habits. Weekly acupuncture visits can keep the Qi moving and keep the pain at bay.
In my practice, I see car accidents as one of the leading causes of chronic pain. Folks don’t realize that the sooner you seek treatment, the better off you will be. I have my own story with a car accident. Believe me… acupuncture can help acute pain. I realize some need to wait for insurance claims, but your health is more important in the long run. Remember: GET TREATMENT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!
4. Surgical Scars
Surgical scars can block channel flow and cause pain. For the patient, it is very ambiguous because the pain is not at the sight of the scar. You have to imagine a channel like a flowing river. After a storm a huge boulder falls into the river changing its natural flow. It’s downstream where we see the results of this obstruction. This is why I can work on someone’s Morton Neuroma scar on the toe and relieve their TMJ at their jaw. Pretty cool, huh? Acupuncture is great for pain management!
Grief, depression, anxiety, stress, and anger are all emotions that can trigger pain in our bodies. Traumatic emotional events can stay in our bodies. It’s hard to say why or if this is even true. When emotional trauma is virtually “stuck” in us, it is difficult to let go. This is slow medicine. Don’t expect a couple of needles and all to be well in one treatment. It’s a process, a beautiful one, but still a process that takes the commitment and the awareness of the patient… kind of like teamwork.