Acupuncture and Chronic Pain?

Can Acupuncture Help Cancer Survivors with Chronic Pain?

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a treatment that uses very thin steel needles inserted into the skin to stimulate specific points in the body. The goal is to relieve a health condition or symptom, such as pain. The practice comes from traditional Chinese medicine. Scientific studies have confirmed its effectiveness for some conditions.

What conditions does acupuncture treat?

Acupuncture can treat many types of health issues. Most often, people use it to relieve chronic (long-term) pain, such as:

Arthritis.
  • Back pain, neck pain or muscle pain.
  • Headaches and migraines.
  • Knee pain.
  • Menstrual cramps.
  • Sports injuries.
Other conditions acupuncture may help include:
  • Cancer and cancer treatment side effects.
  • Face pain and other nerve discomfort.
  • Immune system problems.
  • Infertility.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Menopause and hot flashes.
  • Pregnancy discomforts.
  • Repetitive strain disorders and overuse syndrome.

 

Are there different types of acupuncture?

Acupuncturists who follow more traditional/ancient Chinese principles focus exclusively on directing the flow of qi (pronounced “chee”), or energy, through the body. Other practitioners apply Western medicine, using the needles to stimulate the body’s systems. Many acupuncturists use a combination of both approaches.

Another acupuncture approach treats myofascial pain. This common condition involves muscles and their connective tissue. When muscles are stressed, strained or injured, they often form trigger points — tight, painful knots. A trigger point in one muscle can create pain in a different area of the body (referred pain).

Acupuncturists can use trigger point therapy to ease myofascial pain. They stimulate certain points on the body to relieve the pain.

 

What happens after an acupuncture treatment?

Acupuncture has a calming effect, so you may want to get a ride home from your appointments — especially the first one. If that’s not possible, try to rest for five to 10 minutes before you drive. Your practitioner may suggest that you take it easy for a day or two after each session.

 

WHEN TO CALL THE DOCTOR

Will I need any other treatments besides acupuncture?

Do not use acupuncture to delay seeing a medical healthcare provider about a health problem. In most cases, people use acupuncture along with other treatments. For example, someone with chronic pain will likely take medications and also get acupuncture. Someone with cancer would still receive cancer treatment but also use acupuncture.

You should continue taking your prescribed medications, no matter how good acupuncture makes you feel.

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