Persistent pain affects approximately 20% of the adult population with 60-80% of people who visit Chinese medicine practitioners seeking pain relief. Curiosity regarding acupuncture’s effect on pain began when a film of acupuncture analgesia was shown in America around the time that Ronald Reagan visited China in 1971 (Birch, Hammerschlag, & berman, 1996).
Interested in the research about acupuncture and pain?
It has been demonstrated that acupuncture affects the peripheral and central nervous system in order to produce a pain-relieving effect by increasing the pain threshold (Dorsher, 2011; Eshkevari & Heath, 2005). Neuroimaging data suggest that acupuncture may modulate cortical and subcortical brain areas such as the somatosensory cortex, brainstem, cerebellum and limbic areas (Gamus, Meshulam-Atzmon, Pintov, & Jacoby, 2008).
Vas, Aguilar, Perea-Milla, and Méndez (2007) found that acupuncture for chronic musculoskeletal pain reduced the consumption of analgesic and anti-inflammatory medication.
It is documented in the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine (Marcus, 2004; Sun, 2011) that ‘if there is free flow, there is no pain’. The main pathology of pain from a Chinese medicine perspective is due to a disorder of the qi and blood which could be a blockage or obstruction and/or a deficiency (Sun, 2011). The cause of the pain is determined by the following factors; the person’s constitution, emotional state, environment, diet, exercise, traumatic injuries, and overwork or strain (Marcus, 2004; Sun, 2011).
Treatment options can include choosing a variety of different acupuncture points, specific channel palpation, electroacupuncture, and auricular (ear) acupuncture. One earlier review of pain studies (Ezzo et al., 2000) found six or more acupuncture treatments were significantly associated with positive outcomes (p<0.03). As persistent pain takes time to resolve (Pons, 2013), ensuring patients commit to a treatment plan could result in better outcomes.
Here is a video from the Hunter Integrated Pain Service which promotes and delivers evidence-based, multidimensional care for people with acute, chronic and cancer pain. It is an overview of pain and discusses active self-management which is essential to the best treatment outcomes. Credit for the video to http://www.hnehealth.nsw.gov.au/pain
Refer to our conditions database regarding treatment of specific painful conditions.
All of the above references have been taken from Lori-Ellen Grant’s research paper on ‘The Treatment of Persistent Pain with Acupuncture’ (2013). If you are interested in a specific reference mentioned above please contact us.