Advertising
Advertising

Acupuncture Found An Incredible Relief For Chronic Pain

Acupuncture Found An Incredible Relief For Chronic Pain

What if there were a scientifically proven method of relief for chronic pain that didn’t include daily medications, visits to the doctor, or major lifestyle changes? Would you try it?

Incredibly, recent scientific studies and meta-analyses have revealed that such a treatment for chronic pain does exist—and it has existed for thousands of years. The treatment? Acupuncture.

What Acupuncture Studies Have Found

People around the world have used acupuncture to treat various ailments for centuries, and the practice has increased in popularity in recent years. In 2012, over 14 million people in the United States alone reported having tried acupuncture.

Despite the growing number of acupuncture adherents, there has been little scientific evidence to prove its effectiveness until very recently. Within the last decade, several acupuncture studies have pointed to its efficacy and use in treating various types of chronic pain, including lower back pain, migraines, tension headaches, osteoarthritis, and menstrual pain.

Advertising

Though single scientific studies like these are promising, they also often face various reliability concerns, such as small sample sizes, biased study design, and lack of repeated results.

That’s why JAMA’s meta-analysis, Acupuncture for Chronic Pain, is especially exciting for chronic pain sufferers. A meta-analysis examines many similar but independent research studies to determine whether a particular result is repeated and therefore expected. JAMA’s meta-analysis analyzed 29 high-quality research studies on the use of acupuncture for treating various types of chronic pain. With a total sample size of over 17,000 individual patients, the meta-analysis found that acupuncture did relieve pain at a statistically significant rate.

But the JAMA results are even more exciting because they reveal that acupuncture’s benefits go beyond just the placebo effect, as many people have argued in the past. The results show that patients who received real acupuncture experienced more pain relief than those who received a fake acupuncture treatment and those who received no treatment at all.

How Acupuncture Works

Acupuncture was introduced in China nearly 2,500 years ago as a way to balance the body’s inner energy forces, called qi. During an acupuncture session, the acupuncturist carefully places incredibly thin, sterilized needles into specific points throughout the body. The needles usually stay in place between 10 and 20 minutes.

Advertising

Sometimes the needle is placed on or near a painful spot on the body, while other times the needle is placed on an area seemingly unrelated to the patient’s particular health concern. Acupuncturists study both traditional and biological theories to help determine the best needle placement for each patient.

Even though acupuncture has been proven effective, medical experts are still not certain exactly how the process works to relieve pain. Some research indicates that acupuncture needles stimulate the release of opiod peptides, which provide a painkilling effect. Other research suggests that acupuncture needles trigger the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which in turn affect the body’s overall blood flow and hormone levels.

Though science is still working to determine the root cause of acupuncture’s effectiveness, it is clear that acupuncture is moving out of the alternative medicine sphere and into mainstream treatment for chronic pain. Pain specialist Dr. Lucy Chen explains that “the benefit of acupuncture is clear, and the complications and potential adverse effects of acupuncture are low compared with medication.”

So what should you know before you try acupuncture for chronic pain relief?

Advertising

Tips for Trying Acupuncture

To those who have never tried it, all those tiny needles of acupuncture might seem a little scary. If you’re nervous about trying acupuncture, you aren’t alone! Just keep these five tips in mind for a safe and healthy acupuncture experience.

1. Consult with your primary doctor first.

Before seeking any treatment, make an appointment with your regular doctor to explain your symptoms and desire to try acupuncture. The doctor can help rule out any serious medical condition that might require surgical or medicinal treatment.

2. Find a reputable acupuncturist.

Acupuncture is a pain-free treatment when performed by a knowledgeable and professional acupuncturist. To be sure that your acupuncturist is properly trained and licensed, look him or her up on the website of the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

3. Do some research.

If you’re feeling nervous about your acupuncture session, do some research online so you know what to expect before you go to your first appointment. Be sure to use respected medical information sites like the Mayo Clinic for the most accurate information. If you have any concerns, just give a quick call to your acupuncturist; he or she has seen all kinds of patients before and can help ease your anxiety.

Advertising

4. Check with your health insurance provider.

To save money on your acupuncture treatment, contact your health insurance provider to determine whether acupuncture is covered. The provider may even have a list of recommended or in-network acupuncturists.

5. Relax, and keep an open mind.

Once you’ve found a reputable acupuncturist and done your research about the process, you’ve done everything you can to set yourself up for success. Keep an open mind as you experience the acupuncture treatments. If you’re nervous, that’s okay too. As David S. Kiefer, MD, notes, “even people who are not very open-minded and try [acupuncture], find they feel good during the treatments.”

Featured photo credit: hjochen via shutterstock.com

More by this author

Why It’s Amazing To Have A Friend Who Constantly Says The Wrong Things Eating Kimchi Helps With Social Anxiety Disorder, Science Says Eating disorders An Eating Disorder Isn’t A Choice, Here’s How People Fight Through Them Acupuncture Found An Incredible Relief For Chronic Pain Following your dreams vs. just faking it How Different It Becomes When You’re Following Your Heart But Not Faking Yourself

Trending in Health

1 How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind 2 Simple Hacks on How to Relieve Neck Pain Fast (and Naturally) 3 10 Best Therapy Apps to Better Your Mental Health Anywhere 4 7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life 5 15 Quick Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 8, 2020

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

1. Understand Yourself Better

Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

2. Keep Track of Small Changes

I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

3. Become Aware of What Matters

As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

Advertising

4. Boost Creativity

The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

6. Process Life Experiences

When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

Advertising

7. Stress Relief

In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

8. Provide Direction

Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

9. Solve Problems

Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

Advertising

10. Find Relief From Fighting

Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

11. Find Meaning in Life

Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

12. Allow Yourself to Focus

Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

14. Let the Past Go

I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

15. Allow Freedom

Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

Advertising

16. Enhance Your Career

Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

18. Catalog Your Life for Others

No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

Read Next