For those who are skeptical, acupuncture might conjure up anxieties about needles or an image of Pinhead from Hellraiser. For those who have found relief from chronic pain, acupuncture is a miracle. From your father’s ever-sore back to your bum right knee, many of us have struggled with the effects of chronic pain. From depression to sleeplessness to loss of mobility, it often goes far beyond the pain itself. Unable to ease the pain, people often try to learn to live with it, but there’s no need: acupuncture can effectively treat chronic pain.
What makes pain chronic? It lasts longer than 12 weeks, and can persist for months or more. While it is often the result of a known injury or trauma (ie. why you should come in and see us as soon as you get injured), sometimes illness or undiagnosed problems are the cause.
You might think “Aches and pains are a part of aging!”, and decide to just tough it out, but the localized pain itself isn’t the only problem. Pain has an effect on the nervous system that can cause you to become more sensitive to other pain, known as “central sensitization.” Even things that wouldn’t normally hurt can become painful, and it can persist far longer than in a pain-free individual. There’s also an emotional burden attached to constant pain, leading to anxiety, anger or fatigue. If that wasn’t bad enough, those emotions can decrease the body’s natural pain defenses, creating a vicious cycle. Oh, and long-term chronic pain has been shown to suppress the immune system. Bad on all counts.
Acupuncture may not be the treatment you think of, but you should really reconsider. It is currently being used to treat everything from headaches to cramps, back pain to asthma, and with good reason: a large scale study with data from over 18,000 people showed acupuncture to be an effective treatment for chronic back, neck and should pain, osteoarthritis and headaches. These were clinical studies, meaning it’s been proven to work.
If you or a loved one is dealing with chronic pain, any of our physiotherapists can help you figure out if acupuncture is the right way to go. No horror movies necessary.