Acupuncture is a very effective form of pain relief for acute (sudden) or chronic (long term) pain conditions. Studies have shown that acupuncture is often more effective than opioid pain medication in relieving pain.
What is chronic pain?
'Persistent (chronic) pain is a widespread problem that affects around 8 million people of all ages in the UK. In 22% of cases, chronic pain leads to depression, and some 25% of those diagnosed with chronic pain go on to lose their jobs (Chronic Pain Policy 2010).'
The International Association for the Study of Pain has defined pain "as an unpleasant sensory or emotional experience resulting from actual or potential tissue damage". Chronic pain may be defined as pain that lasts beyond the usual course of the acute disease or expected time of healing, and it may continue indefinitely.
Typical chronic pain conditions include: osteoarthritis; rheumatoid arthritis; low back, shoulder and neck pain; headache and migraine; cancer pain; fibromyalgia; ME; neuropathic pain (e.g. sciatica, trigeminal neuralgia, post herpetic neuralgia); chronic overuse conditions (e.g. tendonitis); and chronic visceral pain (e.g. irritable bowel syndrome, interstitial cystitis, endometriosis).
How can acupuncture help?
Acupuncture may help relieve chronic pain by:stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors (e.g. neuropeptide Y, serotonin), and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord;
stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors (e.g. neuropeptide Y, serotonin), and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord.
increasing the release of adenosine, which has antinociceptive properties.
modulating the limbic-paralimbic-neocortical network.
reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors.
improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility by increasing local microcirculation, which aids dispersal of swelling.