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.
A recent review by the NIH found acupuncture to be an effective treatment for back pain and osteoarthritis of the knee. This is no surprise to us! We’re happy to say we frequently treat all kinds of pain conditions with acupuncture and in the majority of cases it is helpful. We think this study is great because it acknowledges and promotes the use of acupuncture and other non-drug approaches for pain management. The study may encourage more doctors to recommend acupuncture to patients seeking pain relief and may help patients cut back on pain medication usage.
An OB-GYN maternal fetal medicine specialist published this recent opinion article recommending acupuncture for fertility. This is a very positive article, and we’re very happy to say that we’ve seen many of our patients using acupuncture for infertility who went on to become pregnant and deliver healthy babies! The author, Dr. Clark, highlights the stress and emotional difficulties around infertility and the role of acupuncture in harmonizing the mind and body. Acupuncture not only helps with the physiological aspects of fertility, it also helps with stress reduction and feelings of well-being, and these in turn can help promote fertility.
Sometimes people ask us what health conditions we treat most frequently at Acupuncture Together, or how acupuncture can help them. It’s also good for people to know that they aren’t alone with their health challenges, that these conditions are quite common and that we are experienced at helping people with these every day.
Here are the conditions that people seek acupuncture for most commonly in our practice, all of which tend to get good results when received with the frequency recommended by your acupuncturist:
- Musculoskeletal pain conditions (neck, jaw/TMJ, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, finger/thumb, carpal tunnel, low back, sciatica, hip, knee, ankle, foot/plantar fasciatis, toe and more) – Acupuncture is a great treatment for all types of joint and muscle pains, whether it’s due to arthritis, bursitis, tendinitis, autoimmune diseases or other conditions such as Morton’s Neuroma, Baker’s cysts, De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis, etc. In particular, low back pain is probably the number one most frequently treated condition of all. Acupuncture is widely known as an effective treatment for low back pain, and for pain in general. MDs and physical therapists often suggest to their patients that they try acupuncture for musculoskeletal pain, and we find that many of our patients are able to reduce or eliminate pain medications and sometimes even avoid surgery when they’ve been treated with acupuncture.
- Stress – In our modern, fast-paced world, who doesn’t experience some degree of stress? Whether it’s related to work, school, family, health problems or rush hour traffic, most people feel themselves experiencing some stress and tension. For many people, stress can be the root of other troubles such as insomnia, muscle tension and digestive problems. Acupuncture is awesome for stress relief! It calms the nervous system, and as it works to reduce your stress, it can help to improve other stress-related symptoms, too.
- Anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – Much like stress, anxiety and PTSD are big challenges for many people. Some people experience panic attacks, difficulty sleeping, a racing heart and/or inability to focus. Acupuncture is excellent for relieving anxiety, calming the “fight or flight” response and reducing associated symptoms.
- Insomnia – Whether it’s difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, we’ve got some great points for you! Acupuncture is generally helpful for sleep, and there are specific points that we use for particular sleep problems (such as stress related or menopausal related sleep disturbances). Many of our patients who don’t even request treatment for sleep mention to us at follow-up appointments that they’ve been sleeping better after receiving acupuncture. If you’ve been having difficulty sleeping, definitely give acupuncture a try!
- Infertility – So many hopeful parents-to-be come to us seeking help with fertility. Acupuncture helps to gently regulate hormones and can be used as a stand alone treatment or concurrently with fertility treatments such as Clomid, IUI and IVF to boost chances of conceiving. It’s also beneficial for stress reduction and overall health, and can relieve the uncomfortable side-effects of fertility medications. Some of our patients decide to begin working on fertility before they try to conceive, while others decide to give acupuncture a try after they’ve been trying for awhile. No matter the situation, we’ll do our best to help. We’re delighted to have seen many of our patients become pregnant and go on to have healthy babies!
- Headaches & Migraines – We’ve seen many patients who were experiencing debilitating migraines experience positively dramatic results with acupuncture. Some patients who have missed days of work or leisure time, forced to go lay down in a quiet dark room, have been able to avoid those types of days and live happier, more productive lives when they receive acupuncture on a regular basis. Acupuncture can help reduce the frequency and severity of migraines and other headaches, such as tension headaches and sinus headaches, as well.
- Allergies – Seasonal and environmental allergy symptoms such as sinus congestion and pressure, runny nose, sneezing and itchy/watery eyes can be alleviated with acupuncture. It can be used for prevention/maintenance as well as for symptom reduction when the season/exposure is at its peak.
- Pregnancy Support – Throughout pregnancy, acupuncture is a safe, natural and effective treatment for various discomforts and can be used to prepare for a healthy and efficient labor. Patients are frequently referred to us by their midwives for various pregnancy related concerns and general health issues when medications are best avoided during pregnancy.
- Fibromyalgia – Experiencing widespread chronic pain is very challenging. Acupuncture is very good at pain management and reduction. We focus on generalized pain and also use points to target any particularly bad spots. Regular acupuncture alleviates the discomforts of fibromyalgia and can also help improve mood and sleep, so you feel a sense of overall wellness.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Acid Reflux/GERD, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and other digestive symptoms – Digestive problems can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. Acupuncture can help regulate and improve digestive function so you feel more comfortable, less distracted by symptoms and better able to enjoy life.
There are other conditions for which acupuncture can be helpful, so if you’re curious about being treated for something that isn’t listed above or on our conditions treated page, please ask! You are welcome to call us at 617-499-9993 and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.