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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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