Sunday, June 9, 2013

Acupuncture and Pain

Most people experience some type of significant pain at some point or another in their lives. This pain may be due to a serious or minor injury, a chronic illness, or even an unknown cause. Pain is the body's own red flag letting us know that something is wrong and out of balance.

No one should have to live with pain. Acupuncture is a safe, effective, natural, and drug-free way to eliminate pain. The National Institute of Heath (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have recognized acupuncture to be an effective treatment for numerous causes of pain including: arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, migraines, low back pain, osteoarthritis, sciatica, frozen shoulder, and tennis elbow to name a few. 

How an acupuncturist sees pain~

Acupuncturists recognize that there is a vital energy called Qi (pronounced chee) circulating within the body. Qi flows in the natural world all around us and also within us through a series of pathways and meridians. Meridians can be described as rivers within the body. As a river flows, it brings water and nourishment to the land, plants, and people along its river banks. Likewise, meridians in the body transport life-giving Qi, bring nourishment to every cell, tissue, muscle, organ, and gland in the body.

It is this smooth flow of Qi in the body that is most important. Think of an underground sprinkler system providing water and nourishment to the entire garden. If there was a blockage in one area of the intricate network, then that area of the garden would not be able to grow and blossom.

This goes the for your body as well. If there is a blockage in the flow of Qi anywhere in the body there will be a lack of nourishment going to this area. If this blockage is prolonged, symptoms may arise including pain.

Things that can cause Qi to become blocked~

  • Poor diet
  • Physical trauma
  • Emotional trauma
  • Chemical, physical, or emotional stress
  • Overall weak constitution

How acupuncture treats pain~

An acupuncturist will choose specific points along the effected meridians and insert fine needles to break up any blockages that are disrupting the smooth flow of Qi. When Qi is flowing freely then the pain will diminish. Once the initial symptoms of the pain are gone then the body can begin to heal on deeper levels treating the root of the problem.

There have been many studies done on how acupuncture works according to Western medicine. These current theories include:

Neurotransmitter Theory- Acupuncture affects the brain to stimulate the secretion of beta-endorphins in the brain and spinal cord. These neurotransmitters influence the immune system and the antinociceptive system thereby promoting the body to heal and a reduction in pain.

Autonomic Nervous System Theory- Acupuncture stimulates the release of norepinephrine, acetylcholine, and several types of opioids, normalizing the autonomic nervous system and reducing pain.

Gate Control Theory- Acupuncture activates non-nociceptive receptors that inhibit the transmission of signals in the dorsal horn of the central nervous system. Essentially “gating out” painful stimuli.

Vascular-interstitial Theory- Acupuncture facilitates healing by allowing the transfer of material and electrical energy between normal and injured tissue.

Blood Chemistry Theory- Acupuncture can raise and lower peripheral blood components such as triglycerides, cholesterol, and phospholipids. Thereby regulating the body towards homeostasis.

For more information about acupuncture and pain treatment please visit the National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

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