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Acupuncture for Pain Relief: What You Need to Know

An ancient Chinese medical practice,acupuncture for pain relief has been increasingly accepted in the U.S. and beyond as an alternative treatment for migraines, knee pain, neck pain, lower back pain and osteoarthritis, Acupuncture is also used as a supportive therapy to help control cancer treatment symptoms. As a matter of fact, Western doctors have used acupuncture to relieve the nausea, vomiting, fatigue and pain associated with chemotherapy.

The following information covers what you need to know about acupuncture for pain relief.

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a branch of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), a practice that is approximately 3,500 years older than traditional Western medicine. Acupuncture for pain relief and other issues works by applying ultra-fine needles, heat, and pressure to precise points on the body. The theory behind acupuncture is that stimulating these points redirects and/or releases the body’s natural energy referred to as Qi or chi, since chronic pain and illnesses originate from imbalances or blockages of this essential life force.

Does It Work?

Several studies have found that acupuncture works particularly well when it comes to treating chronic pain issues. It also helps reduce the severity and frequency of tension headaches. The National Institute of Health (NIH) also reported that acupuncture is a worthy treatment option for people dealing with chronic pain to consider. A different review article that came out in Practical Pain Management found that pain relief from acupuncture worked by inactivating the main source of pain by adjusting endorphin levels. These reports also documented the benefits of acupuncture treatments for temporomadibular joint disorder (TMD). Even though the procedure is carried out by inserting ultra-thin needles into various points on the body, acupuncture is regarded as a gentle, non-invasive treatment.

Side Effects

Besides pain relief, other beneficial side effects of acupuncture include, but are not limited to, more energy, improved sleep, better digestion, mental clarity and less stress. Potential, negative side effects include fatigue, slight bruising or soreness, lightheadedness, muscle spasms and emotional release. However, these issues are rare, not serious or long lasting and shouldn’t deter anybody from trying acupuncture for pain relief or any other issues it could help treat.

How Long Does Acupuncture for Pain Relief Take?

Acupuncture is a process that takes time and it’s rare that a problem can be remedied in one treatment. In China, the typical protocol for chronic conditions is having acupuncture treatments every other day for about three months. While most patients don’t require that many treatments, everyone requires a course of treatment to get what they want from acupuncture. If they don’t come in often enough or for long enough, they may not achieve the full benefits. Some patients choose to see their acupuncturist on a regular basis, in many cases simply to maintain an overall feeling of well-being.

Insurance Coverage

Today, acupuncture is covered by a number of American insurance companies. If you’re not sure if your insurance plan cover’s acupuncture, call the phone number on your insurance card and inquire about it, or ask your physician.

Find the Right Acupuncturist

If you’re considering acupuncture for pain relief, find an acupuncturist that’s a licensed and certified practitioner with a good reputation. Beyond that, make sure to choose a acupuncturist that you feel comfortable with.