Pain comes in many different forms and from many different causes. From acute injury or muscle soreness, to long term chronic pain issues seen in conditions like arthritis, pain doesn’t discriminate.
The search for pain management can often lead people from Dr to Dr, running test after test, with no answer in sight.
Acupuncture as a pain management tool has been hotly debated over the last decade. However, for thousands of years, Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine has evolved to provide a theoretical and clinical framework for the assessment and management of people experiencing symptoms of pain.
The principles of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, centre around the understanding and theory relating to oxygen, blood, organ systems and channel networks, or meridians. Within those channel networks, blood vessels, capillaries and lymphatic vessels of the body move all the vital substances of the body required for energy, tissue oxygenation and immune mechanisms.
In Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture theory, pain management centres around treatment of the body as a holistic and interconnected physiological organism with various psycho emotional aspects. If I was to draw a comparison using scientific lingo, it could almost be related to a sort of psycho-somatic, neuro-emotional perspective of the body.
When they delved deep into the physiological and anatomical landmarks and body parts, they saw where the vessels were arranged and traced them back to the related organ networks. The complicated body maps that Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine has amassed over the thousands of years relates to the constantly evolving nature of Chinese Medicine, which is constantly being updated according to how clinicians see patients responding to treatment.
So, what is pain? Pain is a sensation in the body which is usually a symptom that can feel like any of the following:
Sharp, stabbing or shooting
Hot or Burning
Heaviness or pressure
Constant or Intermittent
Sometimes pain can’t even be described, it just hurts!
Pain is observed through the brain’s perception, judgement or awareness of the body, through the mediators of receptors like nociceptors and proprioceptors, which measure location and intensity of signals at sites of the body stimulated by physical and environmental contact.
What’s happening when we feel pain? Many things can be happening in tandem with pain, injury and chronic pain conditions. There can be emotional responses to the experience of pain like:
Anger and frustration
Fear and avoidance
Physical limitations from the effects of pain can include:
Decreased range of motion
Increased muscular or joint sensitivity
Systemic symptoms in the body which can be present in pain conditions can include:
Pain can affect our entire presence of well being, our enjoyment of the present moment and how we socialise or experience life. So, how does Chinese Medicine look at pain?
The saying goes:
When the circulation of blood and oxygen, termed Qi (oxygen) and Xue (blood) in Chinese language, is operating efficiently and effectively, moving freely and flowing through the vessels of the body without blockage, there is no pain. So when there is pain, there is some sort of disharmony or dysfunction with the mechanisms involved with “free flow” of blood and oxygen in the body.
Chinese Medicine looks at pain as a blockage, or a symptom of deficiency or excess in the body. And when there is blockage along the meridians, blood vessels and nerve pathways of the body, blood can not flow to nourish and oxygenate tissues and organs as effectively and efficiently.
What pain management, or pain relief options exist for people experiencing pain? The experience of pain and some of the types of pain people generally seek treatment for include:
Lower back pain
Digestive pain, Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Sciatica and nerve entrapment type pain
Usually, the first point of call for most people experiencing pain will be a GP or Doctor, or potentially a pharmacy or pharmacist for over the counter or prescribed medications.
However, given the decrease of over the counter medications due to the opioid epidemic, other therapies have gained more attention for the treatment of Chronic pain.
More recently, NICE released it’s draft guidelines on the management of Chronic pain, stating that Acupuncture should be considered as a chronic pain relief and management option.
The Acupuncture Evidence Project also lists other areas where Acupuncture may be beneficial.
If you wish to hear about more information about Acupuncture for pain relief or want to find out how Acupuncture might be able to help, please get in touch with us or make a booking, to discuss with one of our accredited practitioners. We are happy to chat things through.
Thank you for reading
Acupuncture Hobart – Accredited Acupuncture and Acupuncture Resources in Hobart
*This article is reviewed and updated as needed.