Pain Awareness Month

by Sean Honea L.Ac



sore knee

The American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) has declared September Pain Awareness Month: "a time when various organizations work to raise public awareness of issues in the area of pain and pain management." In that Spirit, we would also like to raise awareness of Acupuncture as a great complementary therapy for the management of pain.

For many people, acupuncture works well for the management of both chronic and acute pain. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, "a number of studies suggest that acupuncture may help ease types of pain that are often chronic such as low-back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis/knee pain." NCCIH continues that acupuncture also "may help reduce the frequency of tension headaches and prevent migraine headaches. Therefore, acupuncture appears to be a reasonable option for people with chronic pain to consider."

An Article written by STAT in May 2017 reports that the FDA gives acupuncture a positive recommendation as well:

"The Food and Drug Administration released proposed its blueprint on educating health care providers about treating pain. The guidelines now recommend that doctors get information about chiropractic care and acupuncture as therapies that might help patients avoid prescription opioids"

How exactly does Acupuncture help with pain? Recently, National Public Radio interviewed Wesley Gilliam, clinical director of the Mayo Clinic's Pain Rehabilitation Center in Rochester, Minnesota for the NPR article, Holistic Therapy Programs May Help Pain Sufferers Ditch Opioids. Although Gilliam did not specifically mentioned acupuncture, he offered key insights as to why various relaxation techniques are able to offer relief to chronic pain suffers.

"When you're in chronic pain and it's poorly managed, the nervous system can get out of whack. Your body behaves as if it's under stress all the time, even when it's not. Your muscles may be tense and your heart and breathing rates elevated, among other things. With meditation and relaxation exercises, we're trying to teach people to learn to relax their bodies and hopefully kick in a relaxation response. If I have low-back pain, for example, during periods of stress, muscular tension is going to exacerbate the pain in my back. We focus on helping people to disengage from their symptoms. By learning to relax in response to stress, muscular tension can be diminished and the experience of pain eased. This doesn't require a medication or a procedure, just insight and implementation of a relaxation skill."
However, the Harvard Medical School's publication "Health Beat," offers support for Acupuncture as an effective therapy for offering pain relief and relaxation by stating that Acupuncture "may relieve pain by releasing endorphins, the body's natural pain-killing chemicals, and by affecting the part of the brain that governs serotonin, a brain chemical involved with mood." These two mechanism together is what produces the Needle-Nap High(similar to the runner's high), that many patients experience during and immediately after treatment.

Southside Community Acupuncture is committed to providing affordable and accessible acupuncture through our group treatment model. Our goal is to offer people as much acupuncture as they need at a price they can afford in order to facilitate better health and wellness.


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