Acupuncture: Stick a Pin in Pain

Maybe you’ve been popping aspirin for your aching back for years, or your mother’s arthritic knees don’t seem to improve with medication. It’s frustrating that with all the medical technology available, so many of us still suffer from chronic pain.

Maybe it’s time to consider acupuncture.

While the thought of letting someone tap tiny needles into various spots on your body might make you a little queasy, the procedure does provide pain relief for a lot of people. The ancient Chinese tradition is based on the premise that Qi, or energy, flows through the body along pathways called meridians; when a person’s Qi is blocked, pain and disease result. By stimulating specific points along the meridians, according to this Eastern perspective, acupuncture restores the flow of Qi.

While suspicious Western doctors have been unable to locate this mysterious Qi with their state-of-the-art instruments, research supports acupuncture as an effective tool against many kinds of chronic pain, such as osteoarthritis, lower back pain, menstrual cramps and migraine headaches. It is believed that the needles, inserted at specific points, stimulate nerves and so release the body’s own endorphins and opioids, providing pain relief. The process has also shown to dilate blood vessels and thus improve blood circulation.

So, centuries after people first started deriving benefits from acupuncture, Western medical leaders are giving the procedure a tentative nod of approval. There are about 6,500 licensed acupuncturists in the United States, according to WebMD, and acupuncture needles are regulated as medical instruments by the FDA. It’s even becoming more common for acupuncture treatment to be covered by health insurance for many conditions.

While acupuncture can’t repair a degenerated spinal disk or joints that have been physically altered by arthritis, the process reduces the swelling and inflammation that can compress the nerves. Since the physical damage is not repaired, pain does often recur, and so follow-up treatments are necessary.

If you think acupuncture might be worth a try, talk with your doctor and ask for a referral. That one step might put you or someone you love on the road toward pain relief.

Heather L. Jones is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Davis, Calif.

By Heather L. Jones, Care2 Green Living contributing writer

21 comments

Ben Oscarsito
Ben Oscarsito3 years ago

It works!

No Politics H.
Past Member 3 years ago

I've tried it and it really does work.

Deborah Litster
Deborah Litster3 years ago

will it help any other conditions like lymphatic conditions

Patricia H.
Patricia H.4 years ago

thanks for sharing

Andy O.
Past Member 4 years ago

This does help the pain level greatly and helps you relax.

Veronica C.
Veronica C.5 years ago

I'm interested, but I don't know if I could handle those needles. I don't know if I could relax enough.

Penny B.
Penny B.5 years ago

I used acupuncture before I had my hip replaced. My pain was greatly reduced. It did help to keep me on my feet longer so I had surgery over the holidays......LOL

K s Goh
KS Goh5 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Bon L.
Bon L.5 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Mique Churh
Mique C.5 years ago

Actually acupuncture is not based on "Energy". The word "Qi" was translated into French in the early 1900's by a banker who was interested in Chinese medicine. His use of the word "Energy" is not an accurate translation of the word. Chinese medicine would long have been mainstream by now if not for this.