Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medicine technique using ultra-fine needles that’s been gaining support in evidence-based medicine in the last few decades.
At Coastal Pain Medicine, interventional pain management specialist Dr. Patrick Brennan offers acupuncture. It’s a treatment option for pain-related conditions ranging from headaches to musculoskeletal problems, helping to improve patient health and well-being at our office in Pompano Beach, Florida.
When people hear about the needles, though, one of the first questions they ask is if the treatment hurts. Here’s the answer and a lot more about acupuncture.
How acupuncture works depends on whom you ask. Traditional Chinese medical specialists and Western medicine physicians differ in their ideas about the body and healing.
In traditional Chinese medicine, health results from balancing the “yin” (female) and “yang” (male) aspects of the life force, called “qi” or “chi.” In this view, illness occurs when the forces aren’t balanced properly.
Qi moves along 14 major pathways (meridians) in the human body. Acupuncturists tap into the energy flow through 350 individual acupuncture points. Inserting very thin needles into these points in specific combinations brings qi back into balance.
The needles stimulate the body to:
According to Western medicine, placing small, thin needles into specific spots on the body triggers a number of biochemical responses, such as releasing endorphins (natural painkillers) and boosting neurotransmitters (control nerve impulses).
These affect your body’s internal regulation system, reducing pain and inflammation.
In response, you experience increased energy and physiological balance, which boosts your natural healing abilities.
What does the research say? The results are mixed.
Research suggests that acupuncture does relieve pain, but while it’s also used for a variety of other physical and mental conditions, there’s limited evidence for its effectiveness for conditions other than pain.
Acupuncture has been proven to help in the following pain-related conditions:
Other conditions may benefit from acupuncture, including:
Now we come to one of the most frequently asked questions: Do the needles we use during acupuncture hurt?
Most people feel a small prick as the needles are inserted, but it’s usually nothing more than that. It’s certainly less painful than a vaccination or a blood draw. That’s partly because the needles are much thinner than injection needles and are solid instead of hollow.
Generally, any pain goes away once the needles are in place, although you may feel a lingering ache or tingling in the muscle as the needles go to work.
If you feel a deep heaviness or numbness, it usually means the treatment is working. We leave the needles in for a short time and sometimes connect them to an electrical stimulator to boost their effectiveness.
Acupuncture’s benefits last 3-12 months, depending on the individual patient, after which you can get a maintenance treatment.
If you’re dealing with chronic pain and aren’t getting the relief you need, come to Coastal Pain Medicine and speak with Dr. Brennan about the benefits of acupuncture. Contact us today to set up an appointment.