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How Acupuncture helps ease pain

Updated: Aug 10, 2022

One of the most frequent complaints in an acupuncturist office is pain, since when our daily activities are limited, and our quality of life is diminished, we want to put an end to it as soon as possible. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic pain affects approximately 20.4% of adults, and a third of them have had to alter their lives as a consequence. Pain is more frequent as the years go by, with adults over 65 years of age suffering the most. Given these statistics, it is no surprise that the use, or abuse, of anti-inflammatories and opioids for pain control continues to increase; and what is worrying about this is that all medications have adverse effects, ranging from gastrointestinal discomfort, to addiction and death in the case of opioids. These drugs may mask the symptoms, but do not solve the cause and prolong the time it takes for patients to seek help. #acupuncture stands out in this scenario as one of the best options to deal with pain since it reduces localized inflammation, promotes healing by improving circulation, and has a direct effect on the nervous system, thus reducing the intensity of symptoms.

Some of the cases that I most frequently encounter in my office are low back pain, neck and upper back pain, knee pain, and headache. The selection of acupuncture points will generally be with points close to the site of pain, distal points of the same affected channel, and the rest will depend on the #traditionalchinesemedicine syndrome that is causing it. The most commonly involved syndromes in pain cases are blood stagnation and Qi deficiency, which in other words, tell us about poor circulation, whether due to muscle tension, trauma, or scars; while Qi deficiency speaks about the lack of essential nutrients for proper neuromuscular function. One of my favorite points is Houxi SI3, located at the base of the little finger, which is used in the treatment of neck and upper back pain. The reason I like it is that it reminds me of one of my first patients, who I was treating for other reasons, presented with neck pain. In that consultation I added that point bilaterally, managing to eliminate the pain during that same session. My patient was surprised as how could a point on the hand relieve tension in the neck? The answer is simple, the channel of the small intestine begins at the tip of the little finger, runs through the arm, neck and ends in the upper back; highlighting that a precise selection of points can treat the affections of the channel. In conclusion, these years of experience have made me confirm that acupuncture should not be considered as an alternative in the treatment of pain, but rather as a first option by attacking the root cause and avoiding almost any adverse effect. My personal advice is to addition your daily diet with a teaspoon of turmeric with a pinch of black pepper in case of pain; furthermore, use hot compresses (preferably bags of cherry seeds), and massage the area with #essential oils such as juniper, chamomile and lavender, and, of course, do not delay your acupuncture session.

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