Acupuncture & Pain
Pain is a huge issue in Australia. According to Pain Australia, a staggering 3.24 million Australians were living with chronic pain in 2018. Interestingly, referrals to pain specialists occur in less than 15 % of GP consultations and medications are provided 70% of the time. Best practice generally does not support long-term use of medication for chronic pain.
Different Approach & Plenty of Tools
The good news is, acupuncture may be a great option to support pain management. Registered Acupuncturists undergo thousands of hours of training at university to be able to help with pain conditions and have numerous approaches up their sleeves. There are many different approaches to pain that an acupuncturist can incorporate into treatments. Some of these include: anatomical based acupuncture, local needling, distal needling, meridian based techniques, moxibustion, heat therapy, cupping and electro-stimulation. Usually treatment involves a few consultations based on what is going on in the body. Acupuncture can also help with issues that are interrelated with pain such as insomnia & anxiety.
Types of Conditions That Frequent an Acupuncture Clinic
Acupuncture may be helpful for conditions such as:
- Neck pain
- Chronic back pain
- Carpal tunnel
- Tennis & golfers elbow
- Shoulder pain
- Hip & pelvic pain
- Knee & ankle pain
- Neuralgic pain
- Plantar fasciitis
- Headaches & migraines
Acupuncture enjoys moderate to strong evidence of effectiveness in the treatment of 46 conditions and is considered safe in the hands of properly trained practitioners. According to the Evidence Acupuncture Project, where acupuncture really shines is with chronic lower back pain, headaches (tension +chronic), knee osteoarthritis, migraine prevention and postoperative pain.
The science behind how acupuncture works has been extensively researched for over 60 years. Acupuncture has been shown to activate a number of the body’s own opioids and improve neural sensitivity to opioids. When acupuncture needles are inserted, biochemicals have been found to be released or regulated by acupuncture, including; ATP, adenosine, GABA and substance p.
Longhurst, J., Chee-Yee, S., & Li, P. (2017). Defining Acupuncture’s Place in Western Medicine. Scientia, 1–5.
Zhang, Z.-J., Wang, X.-M., & McAlonan, G. M. (2012). Neural Acupuncture Unit: A New Concept for Interpreting Effects and Mechanisms of Acupuncture. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012(3), 1–23. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brainresbull.2007.08.003
Harris, R. E., Zubieta, J.-K., Scott, D. J., Napadow, V., Gracely, R. H., & Clauw, D. J. (2009). Traditional Chinese acupuncture and placebo (sham) acupuncture are differentiated by their effects on μ-opioid receptors (MORs). NeuroImage, 47(3), 1077–1085. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.05.083Zhao, Z.-Q. (2008). Neural mechanism underlying acupuncture analgesia. Progress in Neurobiology, 85(4), 355–375. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pneurobio.2008.05.004