Pain and mood go hand-in-hand with many a grimace more often than a smile. When you’re in pain you look like you are in pain and the whole experience can just be exhausting. Conventional medicine works to get you back on track but may have some disadvantages when it comes to side effects, which include addiction. As a result, America is experiencing an opioid crisis of pharmaceutical and street drug, namely heroin, abuse.

Pain relief doesn’t always have to be a pharmaceutical or medical option as there are many opportunities outside conventional medicine that may be a comparable or better choice. Acupuncture is still a misunderstood therapy that remains backed by some of the most extensive and reputable studies to date. When it comes to pain, acupuncture is an application that allows the body to tap into a twofold response, pain management and anti-depression.

Americans Are In Pain

Suppressing pain, begets pain.

With so many available mainstream remedies on the market it may be surprising to know that there is more pain today than ever before. Analysis from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) available in 2015 as reported by the National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), stated,

“It found that an estimated 25.3 million adults (11.2 percent) experience chronic pain—that is, they had pain every day for the preceding 3 months. Nearly 40 million adults (17.6 percent) experience severe levels of pain. Those with severe pain are also likely to have worse health status.”

These numbers are concerning because it makes one wonder whether Big Pharma is just amassing more customers to attach to addictive pharmaceuticals. Fortunately, and possibly due to public demand, interest and practice of complimentary medicine is on the rise.

Josephine P. Briggs, M.D., director of NCCIH commented on the analysis,

“The number of people who suffer from severe and chronic pain is striking,…This analysis adds valuable new scope to our understanding of pain and could inform the National Pain Strategy in the areas of population research and disparities. It may help shape future research, development, and targeting of effective pain interventions, including complementary health approaches.”

The Accumulated Effect

As with many naturopathic remedies, healing is often much slower but reaps longer results. Conventional medicine continues to produce ‘quick fixes’, but traditional medicine, particularly acupuncture and Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM), work within an accumulated margin. This means that the more remedy applications you receive, the stronger your constitution and inevitably your healing can become.

The British Journal of Anaesthesia (UK spelling) published the study, ‘Acupuncture in Pain Management’ taken from volume 7, issue 4 of the 2007 edition of Continuing Education in Anaesthesia, Critical Care and Pain, concluding that,

“Acupuncture may work via the same mechanisms other complementary therapies work namely: Whenever the conventional standard of care is not effective, acceptable to the patient or has intolerable side effects, acupuncture can be considered within an integrated care plan.10 Although not a panacea, it is often an option considered too late. It must be noted that delaying conventional proven therapy in order to use acupuncture as the initial treatment modality for a condition, may be unwise.”

 A Full Spectrum

Pain comes in many forms and on different levels as each individual’s tolerance fluctuates accordingly. Seasonally, pain can be more prominent, especially in cold climates which accounts for an increase in joint related struggles. Acupuncture allows for a natural gauge the acupuncturist can adjust to a person’s level of pain rather than the patient simply taking too little, or in many cases, too much of a pharmaceutical fix.

UC San Diego Center for Integrative Medicine lists a wide range of pain related conditions and diseases that acupuncture has proven to remedy. Some of these include:

  • Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
  • Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)
  • Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
  • Headache
  • Induction of labor
  • Knee pain
  • Low back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction)
  • Periarthritis of shoulder
  • Postoperative pain
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sciatica
  • Sprain
  • Stroke
  • Tennis elbow

Children’s Pain Management

It is always unsettling to see a child in pain and when conventional medicine does not relieve juvenile conditions acupuncture is becoming more of a go-to remedy. Once any fear of needles is alleviated a child in pain may not have to rely on powerful opiods that could have stronger side effects than an adult may experience, especially over time.

Lonnie Zeltzer, MD, Director of the Pediatric Pain Program at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, comments on acupuncture for children’s pain management,

“[acupuncture] affects neuro-chemical signals, releasing muscle tension, thus restoring balance and eliminating symptoms in a body that has gotten out of balance….It had been used rarely in the treatment of children but has proven successful in treating chronic pain and other conditions in children without side effects”

Keeping the Blues at Bay

Acupuncture is also being used in place of anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications particularly applied and studied on women due to hormonal fluctuations as a result of pregnancy.

In a clinical systemic review of Acupuncture for Treating Anxiety and Depression in Women by researchers from the Advanced Integrative Rehabilitation and Pain Center, Washington, DC and the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, it was concluded that,

“With respect to six reviewed studies, there is high-level evidence to support the use of acupuncture for treating major depressive disorder in pregnancy.”

Maybe it is the fact we are living longer or our environment is becoming more toxic but either way conventional pain medications and other medical anti-pain attempts seem to be masking but not mending. Acupuncture has shown to be an excellent accumulative therapy that may, someday, become the first remedy attempted before pharmaceutical choices are used.

At Integrative Med Solutions, we will design an acupuncture and naturopathic treatment program that works for you. In many cases, insurance covers portions of the acupuncture treatment. Allow us to support you to achieve optimal health.  To make an appointment or find out more about how acupuncture and naturopathic medicine can benefit you, please call our office at 914.337.2980 or Click Here to schedule an online appointment.

*Please Click Here to see a current list of Insurance Companies that commonly carry acupuncture benefits for its members. Please call 914.337.2980 or securely email to verify your specific benefits. If you are emailing, please include your full name, date of birth and insurance identification card number.

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