Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine that has been in use for thousands of years to treat pain. Acupuncture provides drug-free pain relief from everyday aches, muscle pain, chronic pain, joint pain, injuries, headaches, migraines, and dental pains. This drug-free alternative to controlling pain encourages the body to activate natural healing. What’s more, there are virtually no side effects. Acupuncture has increasingly become a popular treatment option for stress relief, tension headaches, and to promote a general sense of overall wellness.
Acupuncture for Drug Free Pain Relief
How does it work?
An acupuncturist will place needles in trigger points that stimulate the nervous system to release endorphins, serotonin, and hormones in the spinal cord, the brain, and muscles. Endorphins and serotonin are chemicals the body produces as natural painkillers. These chemicals help the body to relieve pain and also promote the body’s self-healing abilities. They help people to maintain a healthy emotional and physical state.
The Chinese theory behind acupuncture is that it is a technique for balancing the flow of energy or life force — known as chi or qi (chee). Traditionalists believe this life force flows through pathways (meridians) in your body. Therefore, through the insertion of needles into specific points along these meridians, acupuncture practitioners are able to re-balance your energy flow. Western practitioners take a more pragmatic view. They advocate that acupuncture stimulates muscles, nerves, and connective tissue. Through this stimulation treatment, the body’s capacity to generate natural painkillers receives a boost.
There are three components to acupuncture: needle insertion, manipulation, and removal. Acupuncture points are can be found in many places on the body. In fact, some acupuncture points aren’t near the pain location at all. Most practitioners will explain where and why they place the needles in certain locations as they proceed.
During insertion, needles an acupuncturist will place needles at different depths in strategic points of your body. The thin needles cause little or no discomfort. There might be a mild aching sensation when a needle reaches the correct depth. Typically an acupuncturist will only use 5 to 20 needles in a treatment session.
During needle manipulation, the practitioner may move or twist the needles. Alternatively, they may apply heat or mild electrical pulses to the needles.
After 10 to 20 minutes, the practitioner will then remove the needles. Removal is painless.
Many people with chronic pain will use acupuncture to decrease pain and discomfort from long-term health care treatments such as chemotherapy. Acupuncture can also play a role in easing short-term respiratory disorders like allergic rhinitis as well. Osteoarthritis sufferers can also benefit from acupuncture as well as patients with lower back pain, neck pain, menstrual cramping, and labor pain.
Side effects of acupuncture include mild soreness and possibly minor bleeding and bruising. Therefore, we do not recommend acupuncture treatment for people who bruise or bleed easily, people who are using blood thinners or have a bleeding disorder. Furthermore, there is the risk of complications for people who have a pacemaker, as mild electronic pulses can interfere with the operation of a pacemaker. Pregnant women also need to exercise caution as it is thought that acupuncture can stimulate labor prematurely.
Choosing an acupuncturist
When choosing a practitioner, ask people you know and trust for recommendations. Inspect the practitioner’s credentials. If need be, set up an interview with them. Ask about the treatment, how long and where they have been practicing, and the cost of treatment. Disclose any current health issues. Check to see if your health insurance provider will cover the costs of acupuncture. It is also a good idea to inform your doctor of any complementary therapies you are receiving.
Additional Reading: The drug-free approach to pain management
Southlake Natural Family Wellness
Our mission is to support the health and well-being of our patients by offering individualized, comprehensive holistic care including acupuncture, herbal recommendations, customized nutritional counseling, allergy elimination (NAET), whole food supplements, lifestyle suggestions, moxibustion, and cupping, as well as helping couples get pregnant and STAY pregnant by supporting all the paths to conception.
About Farrah Hamraie
Farrah Hamraie, L.Ac, MOM, Dipl.OM (NCCAOM), is licensed and board-certified in Acupuncture and Herbal medicine in the State of Texas with a Masters of Oriental Medicine from the Dallas College of Oriental Medicine. She is also a Diplomat of NCCAOM (the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine), a Board Certified Acupuncturist, Chinese Herbalist, and a member of the American Association of Oriental Medicine.