• Nicole Berrios, L.Ac.

How Does Acupuncture Relieve Pain?


Pain relief is the number one thing that people think about when they hear about acupuncture. Even if you have never actually had acupuncture, the chances are very likely that you have heard about somebody using acupuncture to cure their low back pain or their chronic migraines. And the reason for this widespread rumor is because it's true. Acupuncture is fantastic at relieving pain of all sorts.


For some people, especially those who are utilizing acupuncture on themselves because they’re in pain, the thought of how acupuncture relieves pain just isn’t important. All that matters is that it DOES relieve pain. But for others (myself included!), we have a burning desire to understand the mechanism of things and we want to know how things work: in this instance, how does acupuncture work to relieve pain?


As I mentioned in this article, there is no one single answer to the question how acupuncture works, because it actually does many things to elicit the response that it does. However, for pain in particular, it’s a little bit more straightforward and easier to understand how acupuncture works at alleviating pain.


The Nature of Pain


When a person is in pain, there can be many reasons as to why pain is being experienced. Perhaps there was an accident, injury or blunt trauma that directly caused the pain. Or maybe there is an issue stemming from repetitive use (think carpal tunnel from typing or shoulder pain from working out). And sometimes there is seemingly no cause at all to pain (for example, low back or knee pain with no known original cause or injury).


Regardless of the type of pain a person is experiencing, the nature of pain is always the same: it’s an inflammatory response in the body, typically combined with poor blood flow and circulation. This is true whether the pain a person feels is burning, tingling, sharp, stabbing, dull, achey, pulling, etc. All pain is inflammation, which incidentally is why taking something like ibuprofen typically helps to alleviate pain temporarily (ibuprofen is anti-inflammatory).


So How Does Acupuncture Help Alleviate Pain?


Because the nature of pain is inflammation, the reason why acupuncture works so great at treating it is that it relieves inflammation. When inflammation in the body is alleviated, true healing can occur, not just a masking of symptoms.


In addition to its anti-inflammatory effect, acupuncture also increases blood flow and circulation, allowing the tissues to better repair themselves and heal. It also activates the body’s natural pain relief receptors in the brain, which creates a sense of relief overall. And the best part about all of this is that acupuncture does all this naturally. There are no drugs, no side effects, nothing other than sterile needles stimulating the body to heal and repair itself. Pretty cool, right?


Acupuncture is truly a prime solution to the opioid crisis in America and if people used acupuncture as a first line of defense for their pain, we could drastically reduce the amount of opioids and maybe even surgeries in this country. Now that is amazing.


The Bottom Line


The bottom line is that acupuncture is famous for treating pain for a reason: it works! Regardless of the type of pain, the quality of the pain, the location of the pain or how long the pain has been around for, acupuncture works on all of it. From pain in the low back, knees, rotator cuff, neck and joints, to migraines, menstrual pain and more, acupuncture helps it all.


If you or a loved one is experiencing pain, consider trying acupuncture. What do you have to lose? Do a Google search for an acupuncturist in your area or if you live in the Mesa, Arizona area, hit me up! Nobody should have to live a life in pain and effective and natural relief is at hand. Try acupuncture!


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