In Pain? Try Acupuncture
Posted 10/4/2016 by UHBlog
Anyone who suffers from chronic backaches, blinding migraines, acute muscle spasms or digestive disorders knows there is very little to gain from pain. That’s why people turn to acupuncture. It helps boost your body’s pain-killing ability.
“Acupuncture provides meaningful relief for chronic or occasional acute pain,” says licensed acupuncturist Ted Gannon, LAc. Originating in ancient China, acupuncture is now widely practiced in the West.
According to Gannon, acupuncture involves the insertion of hair-thin needles through the skin at strategic points – or meridians – along the body, which can alleviate pain and treat various physical, mental and emotional conditions. When your energy – or qi – gets blocked along a meridian, it creates an imbalance. This can cause a ripple effect of physical symptoms throughout your body, including acute and chronic pain.
Gannon answers four commonly asked questions about how acupuncture provides pain relief:
- How does acupuncture help relieve pain?
“Pain is the body’s way of telling us that something is out of balance within our system,” he says. “The needles used by acupuncturists are precisely inserted into key points along the body’s meridians to regulate qi, or energy flow. Acupuncture relieves pain by helping restore the body’s ability to repair the imbalances that cause pain.”
- How is Chinese medicine different than Western medicine in treating pain?
“Acupuncture, which has been practiced for thousands of years, is safe with few, if any, negative side effects,” Gannon says. “It views the body as a whole – a complex system where everything is interconnected. Western medicine tends to treat just the symptoms or the area where the person is feeling the pain.”
For example, if someone has a migraine, acupuncturists determine where the underlying imbalance is located. By stimulating the qi, they can open up blocked channels and manipulate the flow of energy, thus alleviating pain.
- How do you diagnose the cause of the pain for effective treatment?
The first thing an acupuncturist like Gannon does when meeting a patient is to discuss the formal medical diagnosis, and then to determine the intensity of the patient’s pain and its location.
The next step is to feel a person’s pulse and examine the tongue. The color, size, shape and coating of the tongue is very important in Chinese medicine because it is believed the tongue, the only muscle you can see that is not covered in skin, can reveal the overall state of a person’s health.
“The tongue is a map of the internal body and is divided into zones that correspond to the body’s internal organ network,” Gannon says. “The tongue reflects what is going on within the body and can often point us to the root cause of the pain, allowing us to begin effective treatment.”
- How often should people in pain see an acupuncturist?
The number of treatments depends on the frequency and intensity of the pain, and varies from patient to patient. A patient with acute pain who has a treatment twice a week will see improvement at the end of three weeks. For longstanding, chronic conditions, your treatments might be scheduled twice a week for several months until you experience a decrease in the intensity or severity of pain.
“When people are experiencing pain, acupuncture is a reasonable, safe option to consider,” he says. “I have been doing this for 13 years and the majority of the people I treat are amazed at how relaxed they are and how much better they feel during and after each session.”
Ted Gannon, LAc is a licensed acupuncturist and Qigong Master Healer at University Hospitals Connor Integrative Health Network. You can request an appointment with Gannon or any other health care provider online.