Acupuncture for Chronic Pain

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.

New Blood Pressure Guidelines: How Acupuncture Can Help

New blood pressure guidelines have recently been published.  The new standard is 130/80, a significant decrease from the old standard of 140/90.  The good news is that medical professionals are recommending lifestyle modifications in an effort to reduce and control blood pressure before trying medications.  Healthy lifestyle habits include stress reduction, a healthy diet with less sodium and increased potassium (essentially more fruits/vegetables and less salt/processed foods), exercising regularly and getting enough sleep.

Where does acupuncture fit in?  Acupuncture is great for stress reduction and for improving sleep quality (reducing frequency/severity of insomnia and restless sleep).  There are also certain acupuncture points which can help directly with reducing blood pressure.  A weekly acupuncture treatment is a great way to reduce and maintain healthier blood pressure levels.

Here are several articles about the new blood pressure guidelines:

Acupuncture for Stress and Stress-Related Health Conditions

Many health conditions can crop up as a result of chronic stress and/or worsen due to stress.  Some examples are indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS); weakened immune function (i.e. frequent colds); hypertension (high blood pressure); headaches and migraines; menstrual irregularities, menstrual cramps, PMS and PMDD; anxiety, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression; insomnia; fatigue; low libido; and muscle tension and pain.  Stress is often a factor in these conditions and others because it affects the nervous system and various hormones that are released in times of stress, affecting various systems of the body.

Acupuncture is helpful for stress and stress-related ailments because it helps to regulate the nervous system and hormones.  There are also acupuncture points used for particular health conditions and symptoms, whether those symptoms are related to stress or not.  The holistic approach of acupuncture takes into account both the “root,” meaning issues underlying one’s health condition(s), and the “branch,” or symptoms one experiences stemming from the root.  With each treatment points are selected to treat both the roots and branches.

What can you do about ongoing stress, particularly when it’s situational (work-related, family-related, caretaking, etc.)?  Take care of yourself as best as possible and find outlets for stress relief when you can.  Exercise, deep breathing, time outside and talking with loved ones are all healthy ways to manage stress on a day to day basis.   Acupuncture once every week or two is a great way to de-stress and stay healthy.  If you have a health condition that is linked to stress, it’s helpful to obtain acupuncture regularly depending on the severity: once a week when mild, twice a week when moderate, and 3 or more times if severe.  You can always ask an acupuncturist for a recommended course of treatment, and feel free to experiment with frequency for yourself to obtain an outcome that feels helpful for you.

Acupuncture, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and the Brain

A study on acupuncture for carpal tunnel syndrome focusing on how acupuncture works via its effects on the brain was recently completed at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.  Acupuncture was found to be effective for carpal tunnel, and the acupuncture treatments induced changes in the somatosensory cortex of the brain.  Results were published in the neurology journal Brain.  Various articles about the study followed: Boston Magazine discussed the study in Acupuncture Actually Works, According to MGH Research; The New York Times elaborated on the study in the article Acupuncture Can Ease Wrist Pain of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome; and Time Magazine explained the study The Weird Way Acupuncture Helps Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

New Guidelines for the Treatment of Low Back Pain Include Acupuncture

The American College of Physicians recently issued new guidelines for the treatment of low back pain, which include acupuncture.  More details are given by this article by The Annals of Internal Medicine.

Here’s a great video from CBS news and another from NBC news highlighting the new guidelines.

Low back pain is one of the most common conditions we treat at Acupuncture Together, often with good success.  We’re pleased to know that acupuncture and other non-invasive, low-risk treatments are being recommended.

Acupuncture for Self Care

Self care has become a trendy phrase, but it shouldn’t be considered a fad; rather, learning to be in touch with our physical and emotional needs and providing our bodies with timely care is a healthy long-term goal to have. Some self care is preventive (eating a balanced diet; regular exercise; getting enough sleep) and some is responsive (getting extra rest when you’re sick).
Where does acupuncture fit in? Acupuncture can be used as both preventive and responsive self care. Many of our patients find a weekly, biweekly or monthly acupuncture session to be a healthy preventive method of self care that keeps them feeling more relaxed, better able to cope with stress, sleeping more soundly or experiencing less pain. Others are so relieved when they can pop in for an acupuncture treatment on short notice for any number of things: relief after a stressful day, fatigue, a headache or migraine, acute pain, etc.
You can add acupuncture to your self care tool kit with other methods such as exercise, a warm bath or a nap. When your body is telling you it needs some relief, acupuncture may be just the thing that can help!