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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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