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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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