Nowadays, people seek other alternative treatments. Oftentimes, when Western medicine is not effective, individuals would search for the best available traditional treatment that may possibly work for them. This is particularly true for patients with back pain or those that suffer from idiopathic and chronic pain.
What is Acupuncture?
It is defined as a part of the system of complementary medicine originating from China for about 2500 years ago. It involves puncturing the skin or tissues used to alleviate pain and to treat numerous physical, mental and emotional conditions.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, the well-being of an individual depends on the harmonious balance of the complementary extremes of Yin and Yang known as qi or chi. It is believed the qi flows through pathways/meridians in the human body. There are 350 acupuncture points in the body. Hence, through these meridians, energy flows are accessed. Diseases or ailments are said to be a result of the imbalance of the forces. Restoration of these imbalances can be brought back through the insertion of needles in the pressure points.
According to Patsy Evans, LMHC, “Acupuncture is a highly effective health care system that has been continuously refined over the last 5,000 years and is the oldest continually practiced form of medicine in the world. This gentle, non-invasive medicine has helped millions to get well on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. Acupuncture is used as both a preventive medicine, as well as a healing medicine to help you overcome chronic or acute health conditions.”
In Western societies, acupuncture is based on the concepts of neuroscience. Acupuncture points are seen by practitioners as a place where the muscles, nerves and connective tissues can be stimulated. Thus, it increases blood flow and also triggers the release of the body’s natural painkillers. If you are planning to include acupuncture in your medical treatments, or simply for the sake of experiencing it, make sure that you look for a professional and certified acupuncturist in your area.
Benefits of Acupuncture
Numerous studies and testimonials from patients reveal that the benefits of acupuncture are widespread. Some of these are:
- Alleviates headaches and migraines
Center for complementary medicine at the University of Munich reviewed 11 studies with 2,137 acupuncture patients in 2009. Researchers concluded that acupuncture can be utilized as a “valuable non-pharmacological tool in patients with frequent chronic tension-type headaches”. The review scrutinizes clinical trials that compare the effectiveness of acupuncture sessions to placebo type of acupuncture sessions and no other treatment was given for alleviation of migraine headache pain.
“Over the past 4000 years,” says Kathleen Farmer, PsyD, “acupuncture has survived the test of time. Recent scientific studies posit acupuncture is an effective intervention for back and joint pain and headache, including migraine.”
- Improves back, neck and knee pain or arthritis pain
University Medical Center of Berlin conducted a study in 2006 that supported that acupuncture is more effective in alleviating chronic back pain than no acupuncture treatment at all. In this study, patients with chronic back pain who undergone acupuncture sessions in over 8 weeks reported a significant difference in pain levels as compared to those who didn’t receive any treatment. What is more significant is when in 2012 Memorial Sloan Kettering Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics conducted a study on determining the effect of acupuncture on 4 chronic pain conditions namely back and neck pain, chronic headache, arthritis, and shoulder pain. It reviewed clinical trials with over 17, 000 patients and impressive results revealed that people receiving acupuncture have less pain than the placebo control group. Thus, it solidifies the conclusion that acupuncture is a considerable option in pain management for these conditions.
- Helps with insomnia
In 2009, the University of Beijing of Chinese Medicine carried out large meta-analyses that showed the advantages of acupuncture in the reduction of insomnia symptoms in comparison to no treatment at all. In addition, it also revealed that patients taking medication or herbal treatments together with acupuncture showed better effects than simply taking medication or herbs alone.
- Aids in chemotherapy and cancer recovery
According to the National Cancer Institute, a number of studies show that acupuncture can help in boosting immunity and hasten recovering process after cancer therapy. A particular randomized trial reveals that acupuncture treatment enhanced immunity, platelet count and prevented a decrease of normal cells after chemotherapy or radiation session as compared to those who received no acupuncture.
- Prevents cognitive decline
“Many individuals experience symptoms associated with painful and traumatic circumstances. Anxiety, fear, and hopelessness are a few emotions that can linger after traumatic events.” – Anna Halliday, LMHC
In 2002, the Department of Neurology at the University of Maryland-School of Medicine treated 20 patients with Parkinson’s for 16 sessions. The patients claimed subjective improvements of individual symptoms including handwriting, slowness, walking, tremor, pain, sleep, depression and anxiety.
- Pregnancy, Labor, and Postpartum health
Numerous doctors are currently recommending acupuncture as a treatment to balance hormones, reduce stress and lessen the anxiety and pain of labor and pregnancy. It is considered a safe treatment for common symptoms associated with pregnancy and postpartum.