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Acupuncture: Stick a Pin in Pain

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.

Read more: Health, Alternative Therapies, Arthritis

By Heather L. Jones, Care2 Green Living contributing writer

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Heather L. Jones

Heather L. Jones worked at daily newspapers in the Bay Area for 15 years. She now lives in Davis, where she writes, edits, and teaches kids about organic gardening.

21 comments

+ add your own
10:11AM PST on Dec 13, 2012

It works!

12:35AM PDT on Sep 5, 2012

I've tried it and it really does work.

8:53AM PDT on Sep 4, 2012

will it help any other conditions like lymphatic conditions

3:57AM PDT on May 3, 2012

thanks for sharing

1:21AM PST on Feb 22, 2012

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

6:07PM PDT on May 7, 2011

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

10:02AM PST on Feb 27, 2011

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

12:52AM PST on Jan 16, 2011

Thanks for the article.

5:07AM PST on Nov 24, 2010

Thanks for the info.

8:35PM PDT on Jun 15, 2010

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.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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