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How Does Acupuncture Work to Relieve Chronic Pain?

Armin Ghayyur

Armin Ghayyur

Many Canadian’s suffer from chronic pain. For some people that means they experience acute pain every minute of the day. For others, the pain comes and goes, but is never really gone.

Managing chronic pain is an uphill battle and for many, it is an impossible task. Traditional pain management requires taking strong medications. These can include highly addictive opioids that disrupt daily activities.

Alternative medicine in the form of acupuncture treatment can offer a better way to relieve chronic pain. It can be used alone or in conjunction with traditional pain management methods.

If you suffer from chronic pain, you know how debilitating it can be. Here’s what you need to know about the potential for acupuncture to treat your chronic pain.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Acupuncture is an ancient eastern medicine practice. It involves inserting extremely thin steel needles into the skin. The needles stimulate specific points on the body where energy is stuck and needs help to flow.

Acupuncture is based on the theory that when energy cannot flow it causes an imbalance in the body that causes illness and pain. The insertion of needles rebalances the energy.

Some acupuncturists follow the traditional Chinese principles of acupuncture. These principles focus on directing the flow of qi (energy) throughout the body.

There are 14 major meridians (energy channels) throughout the body. They are often called acupoints. When stimulated, these points allow qi to move through the body more easily.

Acupuncture also allows the release of chemicals. These chemicals include endorphins, which are natural pain killers. They also include neurotransmitters, which control nerve impulses.

Acupuncture research is ongoing. Many scientific studies have proven the efficacy of acupuncture.

What Conditions Does Acupuncture Treat?

Acupuncture is used to treat many different types of health issues. The most common use of acupuncture is for the treatment of chronic pain.

Chronic pain can be the result of many conditions. These include arthritis, back pain, neck pain, and migraine headaches. Acupuncture can help.

Low-Back Pain

Lower back pain is a common affliction. In fact, it is so common that four out of five people experience chronic lower back pain at some point in their lives.

Many of us justify lower back pain as just a symptom of getting old. But it can be excruciatingly debilitating without proper treatment.

Fortunately, studies show that acupuncture can be a big help in managing lower back pain. Check out this study by the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute.

Researchers found that acupuncture was actually more effective than traditional care alone. It helped participants in the study reduce their symptoms.

They were also able to function better in their everyday activities.

Arthritis Pain

Over 54 million adults in the United States suffer from arthritis. In fact, it is one of the leading causes of work disability.

Traditional treatment methods for arthritis include occupational therapy and medication. Arthritis treatment can even include surgery for correcting joint damage.

Research shows that acupuncture may be a beneficial treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.

Acupuncture provides anti-inflammatory and antioxidative effects. It also helps regulate the immune system. Scientists believe these effects are beneficial in managing arthritis pain.

Between 1974 and 2018, 43 studies found that acupuncture was an effective way to manage rheumatoid arthritis pain. It also improved patients’ quality of life.


The relief of migraine and tension headaches is one of the most popular reasons people visit an acupuncturist. According to a 2016 Cochrane review, 50 percent of acupuncture patients reduced their reliance on pain medicine.

Evidence suggests that acupuncture is effective at reducing the frequency of headaches. It may even prevent them from happening altogether.

Those who have the best rate of success use a combination of acupuncture and other treatments. Many who use acupuncture to treat migraine headaches prefer it to the negative side effects of migraine medication.

If you have a medical condition that makes taking migraine medication unsafe, acupuncture may be a good alternative for you.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Studies show that acupuncture is an effective treatment to improve the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. It can also aid in nerve repair and may improve sensory and motor functions.

Many people who receive acupuncture treatment for carpal tunnel experience improvements in overall pain and numbness, as well as long-term benefits.


Fybromyalgia sufferers experience widespread musculoskeletal pain. It is difficult to treat and when traditional medications don’t work acupuncture can help.

Acupuncture can help to control the pain of fibromyalgia. If it doesn’t improve your symptoms within six to eight weeks you may require an alternative method of treatment.

Knee Pain

One of the most common causes of chronic knee pain is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis causes pain, inflammation, and stiffness.

Research shows acupuncture has the potential to treat chronic knee pain caused by osteoarthritis. It is also often a more cost-effective option than traditional treatment such as surgery and medication.

In fact, the national guidelines for physicians recommend acupuncture as one of the top treatments for knee pain.

Other Pain

Acupuncture can also treat other conditions related to pain and discomfort. It can be used to treat dental pain, menstrual cramps, and labour pain.

Health Benefits of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a treatment option for a variety of diseases and pain. It is proven to be very beneficial in the treatment of the aforementioned conditions.

When performed correctly, acupuncture is a safe and effective form of therapy. It causes very few side effects. It can also be easily and effectively combined with other types of treatment.

Most often, acupuncture is used to treat chronic and other types of pain. It is an excellent alternative medicine for people who are sensitive to pain medications or cannot take them.

What Science Says About Acupuncture

As you can see, a large number of studies suggest that acupuncture can help to relieve conditions associated with chronic pain.

It is reasonable to conclude that people suffering from chronic pain will enjoy acupuncture treatment. This can be done alone or in conjunction with other forms of treatment, such as medication.

Still, science is only just beginning to understand the complete effects of acupuncture on the body and mind. Researchers are working to determine the best ways to measure the effects of acupuncture as well.

Furthermore, evidence suggests that many factors play important roles in acupuncture. Some of these factors include individual beliefs and expectations.

The following study by the Journal of Pain is an excellent example of the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating chronic pain.

The authors of the meta-analysis concluded that acupuncture is effective for treating several chronic pain conditions. The results of the trials were a clear sign that acupuncture had positive effects that persisted over time.

The study also concluded that the benefits of acupuncture were not the result of the placebo effect. Every trial included a control group that received simulated acupuncture.

Is Acupuncture Safe?

If your acupuncturist is a trained, qualified professional, you can rest assured you are in good hands. When done properly, acupuncture is completely safe and does not produce significant side effects.

Acupuncture needles are regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Needles must be steel, solid, sterile, and non-toxic. They must also be labelled properly at all times.

In addition, acupuncture needles are single-use, This means they can only be used one time before they are thrown away.

Always get acupuncture treatment from a licensed professional.

How Many Treatments Will I Need to Treat Chronic Pain?

The number of treatments you will require to treat your chronic pain will depend on the specifics of your condition. It will also depend on the severity of your pain and how your body responds to treatment.

It is common for patients to have one acupuncture treatment a week. Others get treatment once a month or bi-weekly. Your acupuncturist will be able to help you determine how often your condition requires treatment.

If you don’t feel the full benefits of acupuncture after your first treatment, or even your second or third treatment, don’t despair. Acupuncture is a cumulative process, so it typically starts to work after five sessions.

Severe chronic pain and a long-term illness can take months of treatment before it shows effective results. However, the majority of acupuncture patients say they experience results relatively quickly.

Looking for a Professional Acupuncturist?

There is ample research to suggest that acupuncture is an effective way to treat chronic pain. It is safe, cost-effective, and can help reduce reliance on pain medication.

If you are suffering from chronic pain, try incorporating acupuncture into your treatment program. It could help to improve your quality of life.

Book an appointment with Easy Allied Health right now and start getting the relief you need.


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