We treat people with acupuncture for chronic pain every day at Acupuncture Together, usually with successful outcomes. Chronic pain is defined as any pain lasting 3-6 or more months. There are various types of chronic pain, such as pain from past injuries or surgeries, arthritis, nerve damage, headaches/migraines and fibromyalgia. According to WebMD, “the feeling of pain comes from a series of messages that zip through your nervous system. When you hurt yourself, the injury turns on pain sensors in that area. They send a message in the form of an electrical signal, which travels from nerve to nerve until it reaches your brain. Your brain processes the signal and sends out the message that you hurt. Usually the signal stops when the cause of the pain is resolved — your body repairs the wound on your finger or your torn muscle. But with chronic pain, the nerve signals keep firing even after you’ve healed.”
A meta-analysis of nearly 18,000 randomized patients in high quality randomized controlled trials (RCTs) provides solid evidence that acupuncture is a useful treatment for chronic pain. Acupuncture was shown to be more effective than both sham acupuncture and no acupuncture, with patients experiencing less back and neck pain, osteoarthritis and chronic headaches.
Acupuncture helps alleviate pain by activating the nervous system and stimulating the immune response. This article explains these processes nicely. Research has shown that acupuncture increases the response of opioid receptors, helping the body process its own endogenous opioids, thereby relieving pain. Studies have also been done on the use of acupuncture for autoimmune related pain. This study on arthritic mice showed acupuncture being effective for anti-arthritic, anti-inflammatory and immuno-regulatory affects of acupuncture with the stimulation of just one acupuncture point. More research is being done on the mechanisms of acupuncture, but we hope that this information is a good start in educating you about the efficacy of acupuncture for chronic pain.
If you’re struggling with chronic pain it is certainly worth trying acupuncture, and we at Acupuncture Together will do our best to help. With regular acupuncture treatments you may be able to reduce or possibly even eliminate your pain, or use acupuncture for pain management. With the reduction of pain you can live a fuller and more active life.