How Does Acupuncture Relieve Pain?

How Does Acupuncture Reduce Pain in One Session?

Gail Daugherty, LAc, MAcOM, Dipl. O.M., MBA

Acupuncture is no longer viewed as an exotic alternative treatment. It has remained as one of the fastest growing integrative medical procedures since it was introduced in the United States in the 1970’s. It would have never lasted this long if it didn’t work fast and without side effects.

MD Anderson, Mayo Clinic, Baylor University Medical Center, and many other hospitals have acupuncturists on staff to better serve their patients. Cleveland Clinic now staffs acupuncturists and Chinese herbalists due to the tremendous benefit seen when combining Western and Eastern medicine. The United States military is also using acupuncture for injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Acupuncture can begins to relieve almost immediately. An acupuncturist may choose acupuncture points in your wrist to relieve your back pain, ankle pain, neck pain or shoulder pain. You read that correctly. Acupuncture can relieve many types of pain while using the same area. They may insert one to three needles and have you move your back and the majority of people will feel a difference in their pain.

The ability to relive pain in one area by putting needles into another area makes for an excellent post-surgical or injury recovery treatment option. The acupuncturist will know where to put the needles to help the injured area heal even if is wrapped or in a cast. They may put needles in your ankle for your shoulder pain, your knee for golfer’s or tennis elbow, or your hand for plantar fasciitis. It sounds too good too be true, but 3,000 years of history has perfected this technique.

Acupuncture works by affecting the brain and central nervous system to bring healing to injured tissue. Blood tests before and after an acupuncture treatment repeatedly show an increase in white blood cell activity, increase in secretions of endorphins, release of anti-inflammatories, and increase in neurotransmitters.

Acupuncture raises overall anti-body levels and balances hormones. It has also been shown to increase specific hormones, prostaglandins, white blood counts, gamma globulins, opsonins, and overall anti-body levels. This is why acupuncture can treat disorders relating to immune deficiencies and allergies and can help balance hormones.

Acupuncture stimulates the secretions of endorphins in the body (specifically Enkephalins). Endorphins are our body’s natural pain killers. They are 1,000 times stronger than morphine. It is naturally occurring in your body and immediately reduces pain.

Acupuncture can increase certain neurotransmitter levels, including serotonin and noradrenaline. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that antidepressants try to elevate in the blood stream. Noradrenaline allows our bodies to recover from stress and activity. This is why acupuncture is so successful with reducing depression, relieving stress and balancing mood disorders and why people feel so energized after a treatment.

Does Acupuncture hurt?

No. Your Acupuncturist can using different needles and different techniques to make sure you have a pain free Acupuncture experience. Most people notice feeling more relaxed and often fall asleep during the appointment.

Acupuncture needles are as thin as a hair on your head. They are sterile, single-use, and stainless steel. Most acupuncture clinics will offer to end a treatment at no charge if you feel the needles hurt or you don’t like the treatment. Side effects are reduced pain, feeling more rested, and improved quality of life. If the fear of needles is keeping you from living a pain free life, it’s time to give this ancient medicine at try.

How do I find a good Acupuncturist ?

Looking for a qualified Acupuncturist is similar to looking for any health care professional. Most are in private practice and their practice grows by word of mouth and online reviews. Begin by asking your friends and co-workers if they have tried or know someone that has had success using Acupuncture.

Most practitioners welcome your call and questions. They decided to spend four years learning this Integrative Medical procedure to help you feel better. They are there to help and put you at ease.

Acupuncture is like all Western medical procedures and it doesn’t work for all conditions all the time. It’s possible for one person to have excellent results from knee replacement surgery and another person to have no change at all even when seeing the same surgeon. You may have great results with reducing your hip pain in just two Acupuncture appointments, but it could take a few more to relieve your shoulder pain.

Having an open mind is necessary when receiving Acupuncture. Three thousands years of continues success speaks for itself, but it’s okay to ask questions and have any concerns address before the session begins. Animals have been receiving Acupuncture for decades and most racehorse owners have a staff Acupuncturist to keep their horses in excellent health.

How much does Acupuncture Cost?

The price of services varies and some insurance companies now cover acupuncture.

What is dry needling?

Dry needling is a procedure performed by someone who is not a licensed acupuncturist, most often a physical therapist. The state of Washington has recently banned physical therapists from practicing dry needling.

How long is Acupuncture School?

The education of a licensed acupuncturist and licensed Chinese herbalist is often unknown or misunderstood. School is a four-year program that includes Western medical classes, drug-herb interactions, point protocols and locations, diagnosis, and patient care. Each state determines the scope of practice for its acupuncturist. In several states, an Acupuncturist is a primary care physician.

National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM®) is a non-profit organization and the only national organization that validates entry-level competency in the practice of Acupuncture and Oriental medicine (AOM) through professional certification. Practitioners that have passed all exams are listed on the website:

Each state may have additional classes and/or exams that need to be passed before a state license is issued. Acupuncturists that have passed these requirements will be listed on the states website. Practitioners are also required to take continuing education units or classes to maintain their license.

Acupuncture may be the missing piece in helping you to recover from injury or surgery. You should begin to feel better within three sessions. There are some acupuncturists that offer money back guarantees if you don’t feel better after your session. They are that confident in their ability to help you. Can you imagine if all medical staff believed in their treatments with that much confidence?