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acupuncture for chronic pain

Millions of people in the United States are suffering from chronic pain. Chronic pain is typically classified as any painful condition lasting 3 to 6 months or more. Usually when an injury occurs, it causes pain. The pain lets us know that there is a problem in a specific area that needs to be addressed, much like a check engine light that comes on in a car.  A Normal physiological response would be for the pain to subside once the injury is healed, however, in certain individuals the pain doesn’t subside but lingers for months and even years.

Here are Reasons You Should Consider Acupuncture for Chronic Pain

Traditional Pain Medication can be Detrimental Long Term

Pain management in the past has strongly been focused on pain medication and surgical intervention. A common class of drugs for pain management have been Opioids. Opioids are drugs such as codeine, morphine, OxyContin, Percocet, Fentanyl, Oxycodone and Vicodin. This class of drugs has recently come under scrutiny because they are highly addictive substances. Addiction rates to opioids are on the rise at alarming levels and in March of last year the CDC declared the deaths from opioid overdoses as an epidemic. One study published in the J Gen Intern Med in 2011 by Martin, et. Al. concluded that of people that used opioids for at least 90 days (3 months) to treat pain, 50% were still using opioids 5 years later.

Some common side effects of opioids include:

  • Sedation
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Physical dependence
  • Tolerance (resulting in needing a higher dose for similar effect)
  • Respiratory Depression

Another option for managing chronic pain are Over-the -Counter Medications (OTCs) such as NSAID’s (Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs) which would include aspirin, Ibuprofen, naproxen, etc. However, even OTCs have been shown to cause issues with the stomach, liver, and kidneys with prolonged use or overuse.

Why Choose Acupuncture for Chronic Pain?

So, what would be another option for a person suffering from chronic pain that would be safe and avoid the aforementioned unwanted side effects from pain medications? Acupuncture! A study in 2012 found that Acupuncture was effective in the treatment of four chronic pain conditions including, neck and back pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headache, and shoulder pain. In the U.S., neck and back pain are the most common type of chronic pain experienced and acupuncture is best known for its ability to alleviate pain. Based on scientific research, the National Institute of health has also concluded that “acupuncture appears to be a reasonable option for people with chronic pain to consider.”

How Acupuncture Treats Chronic Pain

During an acupuncture treatment, the points chosen for an individual sends a message to the brain letting it know that there is an issue in a particular area of the body. In response, the brain releases different neurotransmitters and chemicals which reduce pain, promote circulation, oxygenation, and self-regulated healing. An acupuncturist may also incorporate other natural modalities like herbal medicine, homeopathic acupuncture injections, cupping, and moxibustion to help with cases of chronic pain.


If you or someone you know is suffering with chronic pain, relief can come from a number of different avenues. Considering alternative medicine is a risk-free option that can lead to long term relief. Using acupuncture for chronic pain could help you find a holistic pain relief option that works for you.


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Posted in: Pain Management