Winter Weather Exacerbating Your Aches and Pains?
We all have that relative who swears they can predict rain with their neck pain, but have you noticed that pain really does flare with temperature change? Whether it is just light stiffness due to dropping temperatures, or chronic pain flaring on rainy days, acupuncture is an excellent way to keep you comfortable. For most, it isn’t until that pain starts to last for a long time or stops responding to medications that they really start looking for a new approach.
Chronic pain is the most common cause of long term disability, and part of the reason our country is experiencing an opioid crisis. Due to the negative effects of long term pain medications, many doctors and patients are seeking alternative therapies such as acupuncture. Chronic pain is the leading indication for use of complementary alternative medicine. Whether the musculoskeletal injury is from overuse, acute injury, surgery, or inflammation; Chinese medicine can offer a multimodality treatment approach. Acupuncture has the ability to tackle the multidimensional nature of pain with few or no serious adverse effects.
A 2005 meta-analysis on acupuncture for low back pain showed that it had a positive effect on short term pain relief, long term pain relief, patients could return to work sooner and decrease pain medications faster. In fact, the American College of Physicians recommends acupuncture as the first line of treatment for back pain, before resorting to pharmacological treatments.
Research has shown that acupuncture is significantly better than no treatment and at least as good as, if not better than, standard medical care for back pain. It appears to be particularly useful as an adjunct to conventional care, for patients with more severe symptoms and for those wishing to avoid analgesic drugs. Acupuncture also accelerates recovery time after traumatic injury and post-surgically resulting in decreased use of pain medications.
Chinese medicine sees pain as an obstruction of energy in the body. When these obstructions are removed and free flow is reestablished, the body it can begin to heal itself. A detailed health history and assessment of symptoms is used to make a Chinese medical diagnosis. Based on this diagnosis, your acupuncturist with select points along meridians, or channels, in your body that carry out specific functions. In a more western medical sense, acupuncture can help chronic pain by:
Providing pain relief – by stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, acupuncture leads to release of endorphins.
Reducing inflammation – by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors
Improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility – by increasing local microcirculation which aids dispersal of swelling and bruising.
Reducing the use of medication for pain conditions
Providing a more cost-effective treatment over a longer period of time
Avoiding invasive and costly interventions such as surgery.
Improving the outcome when added to conventional treatments such as rehabilitation exercises
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Manheimer E, White A, Berman B, Forys K, Ernst E. Meta-analysis: acupuncture for low back pain. Annals of Internal Medicine 2005; 142(8): 651-663. [PubMed]
Qaseem, Amir, Timothy J. Wilt, Robert M. McLean, and Mary Ann Forciea. “Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of PhysiciansNoninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain.” Annals of Internal Medicine (2017).
“Back Pain.” The British Acupuncture Council. 04 Feb. 2015. https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/back-pain.html .
Accessed 02 May 2017.
“Chronic Pain.” The British Acupuncture Council. 04 Feb. 2015. https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/chronic-pain.html . Accessed 02 May 2017.
“Post-Operative Pain.” The British Acupuncture Council. 04 Feb. 2015. https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/post-operative-pain.html . Accessed 02 May 2017.