Learning & Resource Center Articles
Acupuncture & Chronic Pain: A Success Story
By: Cassie Phillips
Acupuncture has been receiving increasing attention in the media over recent years. Once shunned as an Eastern fantasy, the practice has finally earned its place in mainstream medicine, and more and more patients are turning to its healing power.
However, for chronic illness sufferers, the decision to try acupuncture is not always instant. Tuning to a different form of healing takes an open mind, and even if there is scientific evidence supporting it as a functional treatment, there can often be resistance.
As a long-term Fibromyalgia sufferer, acupuncture came at the end of a long list of hopeless attempts to control my condition. While I was open to the experience, my battered hopes struggled to remain high. However, in a matter of mere weeks, the results were astounding. Here’s a short synopsis of my journey, from understanding what acupuncture is to enjoying incredible results.
Acupuncture & Chronic Pain
Traditional healers have long known the benefit of acupuncture as a painkiller. With no long-term side effects, the process can be equally as potent as some of the strongest opioids for pain relief. In a recent study of 300 ER patients, acupuncture was shown to relieve pain in 92 percent of patients after just eight minutes. Comparably, morphine helped 78 percent of people and took 42 minutes to work.
The decision to take long-term tablet painkillers should be a last resort for chronic pain sufferers. Most pills leave you drowsy, irritable and can often lead to depression and addiction. My relationship with these medicines and my desire to stay away from them made me realize there is a genuine need for an alternative to ongoing prescriptions. Acupuncture offers a real solution.
How Does it Work?
In Chinese medicine, practitioners talk about the meridian system, which is a combination of points on the body through which vital Qi (chee) energy flows. By working on certain mirrored points, acupuncturists can regulate certain organs and anatomical processes.
While this explanation holds very little weight in western medicine, studies continue to surface that somewhat parallel this theory. Recent research uncovered that acupuncture actually raises the functionality of mu-opioid receptors in parts of the brain that reduce pain. It’s a small step, but still a significant discovery on the path to explaining the seemingly miraculous power of this ancient practice. Work like this is helping countless people, myself included, open up to the idea of trying acupuncture.
A Holistic Experience
Unlike traditional medicine-based treatment, acupuncture requires a much more holistic involvement. Finding a good acupuncturist is essential to the success of your treatment. If you don't feel a personal connection, then try another option. For me, my weekly acupuncture session soon felt more like a visit to a friend than a medical procedure.
It was also made clear to me on arrival that real success with the treatment involved complete commitment. As well as my sessions, I was advised to receive counseling, change my diet and develop a healthier outlook on life. By making the practice an all-encompassing experience, my health quickly transformed in ways that were truly unexpected.
A traditional image of acupuncture is the placid patient lying calming on a white bed. As an anxiety-riddled insomniac, there was a deep fear that this would be unachievable. However, in the first session, I was immediately overwhelmed by a deep but pleasant fatigue. Relaxation was instant and, although the anxiety and pain were still present, I could be still and sit with the sensation.
After only a few sessions, my energy had doubled, and muscle tension washed away. During the treatment, occasional bouts of deep pain led to a release in knots and tightness that had been commonplace for years. Gradually, my symptoms reduced, and I was brighter, sharper and full of energy. Even my insomnia fell away, and my sleep deepened.
As a patient, it seemed as if no medical professional could give me an answer to my chronic pain. Like many, it was easier to give up hopes of recovery than to continuing pursuing seemingly hopeless wonder cures.
It's easy to see acupuncture as lacking valid evidence and proof. However, personal success stories like mine are everywhere, and studies are continually published confirming its benefits.
If you've been unsure about whether acupuncture is for you, then my advice is to give it a go! Use Acufinder.com to connect with a trained practitioner near you.
"Acupuncture relieves pain better than opioids." Nutrition and Healing. N.p., 06 Sept. 2016. Web. 22 Apr. 2017. Available at: http://nutritionandhealing.com/2016/09/07/acupuncture-relieves-pain-better-than-opioids/
Martikainen, Ilkka K., et al. "Alterations in endogenous opioid functional measures in chronic back pain." Journal of Neuroscience 33.37 (2013): 14729-14737. Available at: http://www.jneurosci.org/content/33/37/14729.short
About the Author: Cassie is a technology blogger for Secure Thoughts (https://securethoughts.com/), who took an unprecedented journey into the world of alternative healing after being diagnosed with a number of chronic illnesses. After gaining control of her conditions, she now also writes for eHealth Informer (http://www.ehealthinformer.com/), to help others who may be suffering from similar problems!