National Pain Awareness Month
by David Mortell, R.Ac.
In most cases, acupuncture works better than physical therapy, massage, and pain medications, and can even help patients avoid or postpone surgery, while improving their quality of life.
And acupuncture treatments save money! In some cases, lots of money! In one cost-effectiveness study, stroke patients received acupuncture treatments in addition to standard rehabilitative care. They recovered twice as fast as those that just received standard care, and saved an incredible $26,000 per person in treatment costs. In a knee pain study, adding acupuncture treatments to standard care saved $9,000 per person.
So, how does acupuncture really work to treat pain? One way it works is by stimulating the release of our bodies’ own pain-relieving chemicals, especially endorphins. Endorphins are opiates that help relieve muscle/nerve pain and inflammation. Acupuncture doesn’t just temporarily block pain signals, the effects are cumulative and long lasting.
Recent MRI studies of the “brain on acupuncture” indicate that stimulating acupuncture points raises the brain’s pain threshold levels so that a stimulus that was felt as painful before acupuncture is perceived as non-painful after acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture also aids in tissue healing by increasing blood flow to the painful area.
To your health,
David Mortell, L Ac., Dipl. Ac.