Chronic pain is one of the developed world’s most significant health concerns. A cycle consisting of pain, lack of exercise, chronic fatigue, stress, depression, muscle tension, tightness, cramping, sensitive nerves, and again, pain is a common complaint among a vast number of adults. Not only is this an unpleasant reality for numerous individuals, but it is becoming costly to society, as well. Between health care costs and the cost of lost labor due to consistent pain, chronic pain issues are costing billions of dollars per year.
Many pain patients feel let down by typical treatments, which basically consist of rest, heat, and medication. A large number of pain victims are turning to alternative treatments such as acupuncture. Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese procedure in which needles are inserted and manipulated at various points on the body in order to treat pain and relieve tension. It has been practiced since up to 5,000 years ago. The first known mention of acupuncture was recorded in the Chinese text “Shiji,” which translates to “Records of the Grand Historian.”
The theory behind the value of acupuncture is as follows: Traditional Chinese Medicine states that everything in the human body is connected. Pain functions as a warning system. Its sole purpose is to inform the body that something is wrong. If one ignore’s his body’s warning system, severe problems are likely to ensue.
Furthermore, bodily functions rely on a life energy called Qi. The idea is that Qi flows in the blood through the body’s meridian, nourishing the extremities. Disease or injury causes symptoms to appear at the meridian, creating a blockage. A blockage at the body’s meridian denies nourishment to the remainder of the body, resulting in pain, stiffness or numbness. Therefore, pain symptoms can always be traced back to problems at the meridian.
Meridian blockages results from both external and internal stresses. Cold, dampness, dryness, injury, or excessive heat may lead to a blockage. Similarly, a blockage may result from emotional strain such as anger, sadness, fear, stress, or depression. In order to treat pain with acupuncture, the source of a meridian blockage must first be determined. Acupuncture is then used to correct and invigorate the flow of blood and Qi, resulting in pain relief.
The body meridian is not the only area that requires treatment, however. Each meridian is connected with an organ in a comprehensive system. Sometimes meridian blockages can affect organs, but just as often, organ damage may create a meridian blockage. Therefore, an acupuncturist does not focus on a specific area of pain during treatment, but addresses the whole system in order to provide relief.
Studies support that acupuncture is an effective treatment for nearly all types of pain. Day to day pains such as migraines, consistent cramping, arthritis, joint pain, back pain, and neck pain may all be addressed by this procedure. More serious problems such as neuralgia, herniated discs, tendonitis, cancer pain, osteoporosis, pain following surgery, and even severe injuries can also benefit from acupuncture. Research has also demonstrated improvements in the immune and endocrine systems following acupuncture treatments. The best news may be that acupuncture can even help prevent pain by encouraging the release of endorphins and other beneficial biological substances.
Modern acupuncturists usually use sterilized, stainless steel needles. These needles are finer and less painful upon insertion than hypodermic needles encountered during vaccines or at a blood lab. The acupuncturist determines which points on the body will be addressed before beginning treatment. Needles are inserted three to five millimeters into these points, until the patient feels a “twinge.” This procedure is repeated at all of the targeted points, relieving stress and releasing endorphins at those sites.
As pain continues to be a growing health problem, more people are turning to acupuncture for help. From minor discomfort to severe and chronic pain, most pain symptoms can be treated through the unblocking of the body’s meridian with acupuncture.