Acupuncture is best known for its ability to successfully treat pain. Pain in itself is not a diagnosis, but rather an indication or warning that there is a problem somewhere in the body. Though oftentimes the exact location of the pain points to where the problem is, as in the case of elbow pain above an inflamed tendon, the site of the pain can also be removed from the location of the problem, as in pain radiating down the leg because of a herniated disk impinging on a sciatic nerve. Treatment is based primarily on determining location and quality of pain, and identifying the affected meridians to direct specific placement of the needles in order to alleviate the pain.
The Western approach to pain management is chiefly based on prescribing pain medications and steroids, which while useful for short-term pain relief in acute situations, only mask the symptoms and can cause addiction and various adverse side effects with long-term use in cases of chronic pain. Other conventional interventions include cortisone shots and surgery, which while sometimes effective do not always guarantee results and can have side effects of their own.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine have long been recognized as a highly effective therapy for a myriad of pain disorders. At the root of Chinese medicine’s approach lies the fundamental concept that when qi, the vital force animating the body, flows freely through energetic pathways, a person will not experience pain. Presence of pain, along with spasms, swelling, inflammation, and bruising, indicates stagnation or blockage from over-use, injury, or degenerative disease. Acupuncture effectively treats pain by moving the congestion or eliminating blockage of qi in the affected meridians, addressing not just the symptoms, but also the underlying source of pain.
Acupuncture treatments are specifically tailored to each individual depending on age, gender, lifestyle, past medical history, current pain status, goals, and compliance. Such approach guarantees the treatment meets each person’s exact needs, but makes it difficult to make generalize overall responses or prognosticate. In general, it is safe to say that acute pain can usually be successfully treated in a few sessions, whereas the chronic pain conditions usually require a longer course of treatment to resolve. Regardless, a person should notice a positive change in their condition over the course of a few weekly treatments, at which point a more accurate prognosis pain can be determined.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy help resolve pain by stimulating endorphin release, diminishing the nervous system’s pain response, facilitating blood and oxygen flow to the affected area, decreasing inflammation and swelling, relaxing the muscles, stopping spasms, speeding up healing, and promoting pain relief and function improvement. Acupuncture’s time-proven ability to tap into the body’s own healing abilities makes it a highly effective way of relieving both acute or chronic pain and alleviating the accompanying symptoms, such as stress, irritability, anxiety and insomnia naturally and safely, without drugs or negative side effects.
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