WITH THE GROWING success of acupuncture, the licensed practitioner is frequently asked, “Can you help with my back pain?” The answer is yes. Acupuncture can lower the symptoms of pain, often relieving it. Neck, shoulder knee or thumb pain — you name it — we can try to help relieve the pain.
Facing any physical ailment, we human beings try to cope by limiting our activities, trying different pain medications, seeking alternative healing methods or — as a last resort — having surgery on the affected area, all of which can have limited success.
Medications often dull the pain, but they don’t make it go away, and too often they come with their own list of side effects. We all wish we felt as good as we did before the trauma or before the pain flared up.
Many studies have confirmed the efficacy of acupuncture on chronic pain. A recent Journal of American Medical Association’s archives of Internal Medicine states: “Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is, therefore, a reasonable referral option.”
Note that to have relief from your symptoms, it may take eight or more acupuncture treatments to feel better and sustain the effects. Even after those treatments, you may need monthly tune ups. Your chronic pain is something you have been adjusting your life around for a while; therefore, it may take some time to stimulate its reprieve.
Chinese medicinal herbs have been used and studied for more than 2,000 years. With that kind of history, these herbs must be doing something right. One of the fascinating things about Chinese herbs is they have an affinity for different areas of the body. For instance, herbs that are beneficial for low back pain may not be the best choice for neck pain. The same is true for pain or discomfort in the abdomen, or pain in the head, like a simple headache. The herbal formulas are formulated for the area of the body in pain, the severity and the type of pain. Some pain is sharp and stabbing, some is dull and achy, other pain tends to move about the body. It’s hard to determine the origin of some pain. These are exactly the things an Oriental medicine practitioner needs to know to prescribe herbs correctly.
These are the attributes to Chinese herbal medicine. When prescribed correctly, pain can be targeted and alleviated. Pain is a condition brought on by many factors. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, a common reason for pain is qi (“chi,” or life force energy) and blood stagnation. When qi and blood cannot flow smoothly, pain occurs, much like a river with debris and branches blocking its smooth flow. The herbs allow the channel to open up, move the stagnation and allow for the free flow of qi and blood, hence removing the discomfort.
Pain and discomfort also can come from inflammation, such as the over use of a muscle after the first softball game of the season. And how about those muscle cramps in the calf in the middle of the night? An herbal combination would target a specific deficiency, instead of an overuse of a muscle. These examples show that muscle pain may seem similar, but they are treated quite differently.
Herbal medicines have anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and anti-analgesic functions. Because herbs have these properties on specific regions of the body, it is no wonder herbal medicine is so popular. Each formulation that is made is as unique as the person in need of pain relief.
With the combination of herbs and acupuncture, human health has been positively affected for eons. The pain you have been adjusting your life around can be alleviated by seeking a qualified board licensed acupuncturist and Oriental medicine practitioner in your area to help you along the path to optimal health.