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There are a lot of pain syndromes that Acupuncture can be pretty effective in treating them, to name a few we can think of Headaches, Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Gout, Joint Pain, PMS Pain, Painful Periods, Neck Pain, Shoulder Pain, Back Pain, Ankle Pain, Heel Pain, Plantar Fasciitis, Leg Pain, Sciatica, Cancer Pain, etc.
Acute Pain is usually caused by the following reasons.
Burns or cuts
Labor and childbirth
Acute pain may last less than 3-6 months. Acute pain is usually sharp at least in the beginning. It can disrupt usual daily activities, once the reason for the pain is removed or resolved that pain will go away.
Chronic Pain is usually linked to the following conditions.
Chronic pain can usually last longer than 6 months, it is a kind of dragging and ongoing pain. Chronic pain can go on even after the cause of pain is gone or the injury or illness has resolved.
Chronic pain can have physical effects and stresses the body. It physically can cause tense muscles, limited range of motion, fatigue, appetite changes, etc. It can also have psycho-emotional impacts, such as depression, anger, anxiety, and fear of getting inured again.
Acupuncture and TCM for pain management
No matter acute or chronic, TCM has the theory of pain of itself.
Tong zhi bu tong = With free flow of Qi there is no pain, Without free flow of Qi there is pain. This is a saying in Chinese Medicine.
Acupuncture can facilitate the Qi flow and relieve the pain consequently. Chinese herbal medicine can also work similarly as herbs can improve the free flow of Qi and relieve pain.
When a needle is inserted to an acupoint, its major function is to activate the meridian that the point is located on, in addition of its specific function. That activation of meridian can contribute to pain relief. Also according to western research acupuncture can cause production of anti-pain chemicals "endorphins" in the blood stream that can help relieve the pain.
Acupuncture points to treat pain of any type are all over your body, not just over the affected area. During treatment, small needles may be inserted along your arms and legs, as well as the affected area. The frequency and number of treatments will vary according to your pain condition and its severity.
Several studies have shown that Acupuncture can help people with pain syndromes including arthritis, fibromyalgia, back pain, etc. In one Scandinavian study, 25% of arthritis patients who had been scheduled for knee surgery cancelled their operation after receiving a series of Acupuncture treatments.
There is documentation that acupuncture can help relieve muscle spasms, and reduce muscle tension, that is in case of the origin of pain in muscles. Acupuncture can also help reduce TMJ “clicking” by reduction in spasms of the lateral pterygoid muscles, and therefore it can reduce the displacing force on the meniscus of the temporomandibular Joint.
In addition to the points selected on the face and hands or legs specific points like ST-6,&7, SI-18, DU-20, GB-20, and LI-4 can help the TMJ disorder.
A study done in 2017 has shed some light in the treatment of TMJ using acupuncture.
There are two types of Trigeminal Neuralgia.
The Primary trigeminal neuralgia is usually due to the compression of the nerve, most likely in the base of the head where the brain and the spinal cord meet. This can be because there is contact between arteries/veins and the nerve at the base of the brain. This can cause pressing on the nerve as it enters the brain and misconducting pain happens.
The Secondary Trigeminal Neuralgia can be due to pressure on the nerve from other sources like a tumor or other conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis or facial injuries/dental work.
Acupuncture in general has a calming effect on the nervous system. Acupuncture can release natural pain killing substances. When acupuncture is done on a patient, signals are sent through the nervous system to the brain, then endorphins, enkephalins, norepinephrine are released. Some of these substances can act as pain killers and calm the nervous system!
There has been some studies on this issue. Please check the following articles.