Natural Pain Relief With Acupuncture
It’s been estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that 50 million Americans were suffering from some form of chronic pain in 2019. Fortunately, there is a natural, safe and effective treatment option for chronic and acute pain sufferers: acupuncture.
Acupuncture is now being used in the U.S. to help treat everything from low back pain, to headaches, to menstrual cramps and even nerve pain. In 2016, the National Institutes of Health recommended acupuncture as the number one non-pharmacological treatment for both lower back pain (LBP) and osteoarthritis of the knees.
This is important as the World Health Organization anticipates that as the population ages, the incidence of LBP will increase substantially and become one of the leading conditions for which medical intervention will be sought. Not only can acupuncture help to reduce and manage pain, but it can help to improve quality of life as well as reduce lost workplace productivity. It also decreases the need for prescription pain medications.
How can acupuncture help with pain relief? Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into the skin at specific points. Once a needle is inserted, it sends signals to the brain to activate the parasympathetic response and start the release of natural opioids, like endorphins, and other neurohumoral factors into the body. Endorphins are the body’s natural pain-killing chemicals.
In addition to stimulating the release of our own body’s endorphins and mood enhancers, acupuncture can help with pain by decreasing the inflammation in the affected area. In addition to turning on the parasympathetic nervous system (“rest and digest”), acupuncture stimulates the vagus nerve. This nerve is responsible for regulating inflammation; stimulating it can help the body to lower inflammation in the body.
Acupuncture can also help to reduce pain in that it promotes the release of various factors that increase blood circulation. Better blood circulation means better joint movement, relief of muscle stiffness and increased healing of any swelling or bruising. It also means that the inflammation can better move out of the area and oxygen and repair cells can more easily move in.
There are a lot of ways in which acupuncture can help with pain relief as well as encourage healing. What makes acupuncture worth trying is that it is a safe, natural and chemical-free pain treatment. If you are suffering from either chronic or acute pain, give acupuncture and Traditional Chinese medicine a try.