Archive for Pain Relief

The management of pain is turning into big business in America and across the globe. In the United States, acute and chronic pain syndromes rank right behind heart disease and cancer as the third most common healthcare problem. The cost of lost work days, hospital stays, pain-reducing drugs and disability payments totals over $100 billion annually.

Pain is the body’s warning alarm according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Nothing in the human body can function independently. The pain alerts the person to the fact that something is wrong somewhere. To ignore the pain is to open the door to more severe problems that can soon form.

Long lasting pain often creates a chronic pain cycle. The pain leads to reduced exercise, limited physical activity, fatigue, stress, muscle tension, tightness, cramping, and nerve sensitivity. Patients who suffer the symptoms of this cycle often feel that the quality of their entire life changes completely due to their chronic pain condition.

Clinical studies have shown that Acupuncture can be an effective treatment for all types of pain conditions. Conditions like migraines, neck/back pain, herniated disc, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, tendonitis, arthritis and even cancer pain have been helped with Acupuncture. Researchers have confirmed beneficial immune and endocrine changes as a result. Acupuncture has been proven to increase endorphin production, which helps to reduce pain.

According to TCM, all human body functions are dependent on the life energy force known as Qi. Both Qi and blood flow through the body to nourish and protect tissues and help them to maintain their functions. If Qi and blood are blocked in some fashion, areas affected by the reduced flow will not get the needed oxygen, nutrition and energy and will begin to break down with the body functioning less and less well.

An acupuncturist recognizes pain in a joint or organ as the warning that helps to locate the cause in a particular area of the body. He will not usually focus so much on the local pain as much as working to rebalance and harmonize the whole body. Generally speaking, by relieving blood and Qi stagnation, the acupuncturist works to nourish tissues, increase circulation, increase oxygen and rebuild deficiencies in organs.

There is an old saying in TCM: There is blockage, there is pain. Otherwise, there is no pain.” These are pretty simple words to live by in addressing pain management.


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More and more, Acupuncture is making in-roads into the care and handling of patients who have received Western style medical treatment. In case after case, the benefits of Acupuncture as an individual treatment or as a treatment in conjunction with other forms of patient care are coming into use by the medical profession.

One of the latest studies where the benefits of Acupuncture have been tested involved a group of cancer patients who had been the subject of a surgical procedure to the area of their neck. The type of surgery the patients received is known as neck dissection. The degree of surgery can vary in severity and scope, but it can involve the full removal of lymph glands on one side of the neck.

“Chronic pain and shoulder mobility problems are common after such surgery, adversely affecting quality of life as well as employability for certain occupations,” said Dr. David Pfister who is the Chief of Head and Neck Oncology Services at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. “Unfortunately, available conventional methods of treatment for pain and dysfunction following neck surgery often have limited benefits, leaving much room for improvement.”

Researchers at the center wanted to find out if Acupuncture could play a significant role in helping with the conditions that patients generally suffer after their surgical procedure. These symptoms include pain, dysfunction and dry mouth and are often experienced by patients who have had neck dissection surgery.

A total of 70 patients were involved in this study. Participants were randomly chosen to receive Acupuncture treatment or more traditional forms of follow-up including physical therapy exercises and the use of anti-inflammatory drugs. Treatment on all of the persons commenced at least three months after their surgery and the completion of radiation treatments. The Acupuncture group received four sessions of treatment over a four week period.

What the researchers found was that 39 percent of the patients who received Acupuncture improved in both mobility and pain reduction compared to only 7 percent of the group who received the usual medical care. An additional benefit that has been reported in similar studies is that the condition of dry mouth has also improved in a large number of the participants.

Dr. Barrie Cassileth, Ph.D., is the Chief of Integrative Medicine Service at the Cancer Center and had this to say about the results: “Like any other treatment, Acupuncture does not work for everyone, but it can be extraordinarily helpful for many. It does not treat illness, but Acupuncture can control a number of distressing symptoms such as shortness of breath, anxiety and depression, chronic fatigue, pain, neuropathy and osteoarthritis.”

The full benefits of Acupuncture are yet to be explored and realized by the medical community, but it is very encouraging to see that drug-free means of healing are being integrated into Western treatment.

Source: The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. “Acupuncture Reduces Pain and Dysfunction in Head and Neck Caner Patients after Neck Dissection.” May 2008.

Categories : Knee Pain, Pain Relief
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