Chronic pain of the muscle and joints is a very serious ailment which not only affects the patient’s physical but also mental health. Treatments for this vary from standard ice and heat therapies to anti-inflammatory drugs.
In some cases physical therapy and specific exercises have also been known to alleviate pain but those who have exhausted all these options should also consider acupuncture.
There has been a long-standing debate over the effectiveness of acupuncture for patients of chronic pain. There is international research to prove that the therapy does bring relief to those experiencing common forms of pain which has brought experts to the conclusion that its benefits are evident and there are no serious side effects and complications associated with it. The study includes enough evidence to have made an impression on the authorities.
Acupuncturists and chiropractors have been fighting for more recognition in treating pain for years. They argue that since their services bring relief to many patients of chronic pain, acupuncture and chiropractic care should be acknowledged as a treatment for pain.
Recently, the Food and Drug Administration granted their wish by awarding a preliminary endorsement to these alternative forms of treatment.
The FDA announced changes in their plan to educate healthcare providers on how to treat pain. The guidelines given to doctors include information on acupuncture and chiropractic care as a possible therapy for patients suffering from chronic pain in an attempt to avoid prescribed opioids and the risk of addiction that comes along with them.
But how does acupuncture treat chronic pain? Dr. Tom Macek explains in this article on how this ancient Chinese practice helps manage pain.
How Acupuncture Works
Acupuncture involves the insertion of hair-thin needles into a person’s body at certain points. It is almost painless if performed by a trained professional. The insertion of needles is supposed to correct the imbalance in the body’s energy flow, called qi.
When translating this into scientific terms, acupuncture eases pain by balancing the hormone levels, neurotransmitters and targeting the immune system.
However, for those who have yet to diagnose the origin of their pain, acupuncture can wait.
Healthcare practitioners recommend visiting a doctor to pinpoint the root cause before starting any treatment so serious medical illnesses can be ruled out. When it is determined that chronic pain is the underlying issue, an acupuncturist can be sought out.
Acupuncture can be performed on a weekly basis until signs of improvement are seen. After that the length between each visit can be prolonged as deemed fit.
The cost for an acupuncture session varies from acupuncturist to acupuncturist and is usually not covered by private health insurers though some plans do cover physician-acupuncturists.
When visiting an acupuncturist do check for their certifications as only trained professionals can administer a treatment that truly benefits the patient.
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine contains records of certified providers and can be consulted by the general public or you can ask your doctor for a recommendation.