Acupuncture for Chronic Pain

There seem to be ever-changing ideas and treatments for treating pain. They vary from long lasting cold packs to new anti-inflammatory medications, stretching exercises to modern joint manipulations, support pillows to old timey creams and more and more as far as the eye can see. Most mild injuries or discomforts heal by themselves over time and are easily tolerated when any given treatment is applied. But when pain or injury is severe or does not go away, it becomes obvious that most remedies and treatments are superficial at best, another ineffective version of the latest thing. But when considering acupuncture for the treatment of pain, this is precisely what sets it apart from all other inventions: it has been used continuously for thousands of years to treat pain. It is not a passing fad or some long forgotten method, it is the most consistently effective method ever used by people to treat pain.
Just as the most conservative MD acknowledges acupuncture can be helpful to treat pain, most people who’ve only heard of acupuncture know it can relieve and in some cases cure pain. Yet even though this seems to be common knowledge, most people do not understand when to use it for themselves. People will try everything and anything to reduce their discomfort and usually it is not until the physical therapy, massage, chiropractic adjustments, injections and medications do not work that they decide to try acupuncture. It’s always better when someone comes to acupuncture not long after they’ve had the condition, but even when acupuncture is a “last resort,” in most cases it still works after time has passed and the condition has worsened. It works because acupuncture has always understood that there are different types and levels of pain and that these need to be addressed individually in order for the person to heal.
Acupuncturists use different acupuncture points on different individuals, even if they present with the same problem. This often makes acupuncture difficult to examine in randomized control studies, but it results in each person receiving the exact treatment he or she needs. Acupuncture points affect different layers of the body as well as the specific place where the pain is located. Some points access the fascia or surrounding muscles, others access nerve routes, some stimulate the connections of tendons and ligaments and others penetrate to the joint. In addition there are certain acupuncture points that increase blood supply to an area and others that drain swelling or inflammation from an area. Interestingly enough, sometimes these acupuncture points are located right over the painful area and sometimes they are on the opposite side of the body. So there is not one acupuncture point for low back pain or for neck pain. Instead, there are several dozen acupuncture points that can affect different layers of the back or neck from different locations. This huge variety in the action and location of acupuncture points allows an acupuncturist to help relieve long standing and serious pain in most places.
A good example of how this plays out in real life is in chronic low back pain. Let’s imagine that one patient is elderly with severe low back pain in the center of her low back that has limited her ability to bend and has worsened over several years. The second is a middle aged person with chronic severe low back pain in the center of the low back that has begun to radiate down the leg. In the first case we would choose points directly over the painful area that increase blood supply to the spine while also including points that go to the muscle layer and release stiffness. In the second case we would choose acupuncture points located near the foot that affect the nerve level to address the radiating pain and also include additional points behind the knee that target the lumbar area, allowing us to address low back pain without using any points in the back itself. Both examples might say they have chronic low back pain that is getting worse, but both require very different treatments. In fact, the acupuncture points that would help one person might aggravate the other.
It is this deep reservoir of options with very specific functions that allow acupuncture to address pain in any location and any level of the body. And it is this understanding of acupuncture that should lead you to use it for the pain that does not go away. At Oriental Acupuncture Clinic our acupuncturists understand how to choose and apply the right acupuncture points to treat all types of pain. So call us or tell those you care about to use acupuncture for what it has and will always do best – relieve your pain now.

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