Acupuncture for Pain

I can’t tell you how many people in some sort of chronic pain have come into my office saying, “I hope this works. I’ve tried everything else and you’re my last hope.” It drives me crazy because this is so backward. Acupuncture is safe, effective and way less expensive than surgery and pharmaceutical approaches to pain management. Acupuncture should be one of the first interventions that doctors think of when presented with a case involving pain, not the last. However, there is some hope.

The American Pain Society and the FDA Endorse Acupuncture for Pain

We’re slowly seeping into the mainstream for the management of pain. As we should be! This is from the American Pain Society: “Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic musculoskeletal, headache, and osteoarthritis pain. Treatment effects of acupuncture persist over time and cannot be explained solely in terms of placebo effects. Referral for a course of acupuncture treatment is a reasonable option for a patient with chronic pain” (American Pain Society article). They came to this conclusion after completing a meta-analysis of acupuncture pain research involving 20,827 patients. I mean, come on now, the evidence is pretty clear. Now our own FDA recognizes the effectiveness, safety and cost effectiveness of acupuncture for pain. The FDA, “now recommends that doctors get information about chiropractic care and acupuncture as therapies that might help patients avoid prescription opioids.”
the (FDA Regulations).

The Acupuncture Center of Reading has Treated Pain Conditions for 25 Years

When I was on the faculty of the New England School of Acupuncture in the 1990s, I used to tell my students to develop specialties in whatever facet of health care they were drawn to, but they had better learn to treat pain, because that was what was going to walk in their doors. Traditional Chinese Medicine is a complete system of health care that has ways of working with the entire spectrum of health concerns that afflict us. And as with all health strategies though, it is better at some things than others. Pain is one area where acupuncture has proven its worth. And when you think of the severe potential downsides of other approaches like pain medications and surgery, I applaud every step forward that we take toward recognizing the value of acupuncture for people in pain.

Acupuncture for Anxiety and Depression

Acupuncture for Depression and Anxiety

I am often asked whether acupuncture can help with anxiety and depression and am happy to report that it can have a very profound effect.

A Recipe for Anxiety and Depression

Few would disagree that we live in a culture that has gone off-the-rails in terms of stress. Gone are the days when you could go to work at 9:00a, leave at 5:00p, have dinner with your family at 6:00p and relax in the evening till bedtime, while still being able to afford a nice home and raise a family.

Now, almost everybody has to work absurdly long hours just to stay one step ahead of the bill collectors and not be looked at askance by coworkers as a slacker. We are almost required to work to exhaustion just to meet the minimum requirements of many jobs.  Add to that the increasing isolation and lack of community that many of us experience and it’s almost a perfect recipe for anxiety.

Anxiety and Depression of the Mind and Body

Fortunately, there are proven strategies we can establish and maintain for a sense of harmony and balance within ourselves even in the midst of this crazy world. Acupuncture and the insights of traditional Chinese medicine are powerful tools to combat the anxiety and depression so rampant in our society.

It is so commonly understood that it is almost trite these days to talk about the “mind-body connection.” Yet fundamentally, this is how we work with these issues with acupuncture. It is easy to see that when you relax your mind, by going on vacation, taking a walk, or getting together with dear friends, your body naturally relaxes as well. (I often wish that I could prescribe for my patients who suffer from chronic headaches, digestive upset, and other stress related problems, a month vacation in the Caribbean. I have no doubt that many of these issues would disappear.)

How Acupuncture Helps Depression and Anxiety

Less obvious perhaps is that when you relax your body, your mind will also relax.  We use acupuncture to break down the blockages and constraints that inhibit the free flow of energy within our bodies will allow them to relax, and facilitate the smooth and natural flow of all our systems.  An inevitable result of the ease we establish in the body is an increased sense of ease in our minds.

Acupuncture cannot remove the causes of depression and anxiety in our lives. We all have to work at our jobs, negotiate sometimes difficult relationships with our families and acquaintances and work on those elements of our own personalities that need to develop and grow. However, if acupuncture can help us gain a sense of comfort and ease in our bodies and our minds, we can work on these anxieties with greater clarity, more focused attention, and a calmer and more relaxed attitude.