Acupuncture is a one of the most effective forms of holistic treatment available today. Originating from China over 2,000 years ago, different variations of this treatment have sprung up in Korea and Japan too. It involves the insertion of thin needles at specific points and depths to cure pain and improve the flow of the “Qi”, which helps stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities.
While acupuncture has been around in Europe for a few centuries now, the practice only gained real popularity in the west in the late 20th century when, in 1970, James Reston, a journalist for the New York Times required an emergency appendectomy during a visit to China. The procedure required him to be anesthetized, and the doctors eschewing modern methods of anesthesia for unclear reasons instead employed acupuncture for pain relief.
Reston, intrigued by the effectiveness and painlessness of the acupunctural treatment, wrote a paper in the New York Times about it upon returning to the States. This would mark the beginning of the eventual widespread recognition and adoption of acupuncture as an effective alternative treatment.
Acupuncture has several health benefits, including relief for stress, hypertension and nausea among others, but in this article we will be focusing on the various ways acupuncture can help deal with physical pain. Remember that the use of acupuncture for pain relief, while proven effective, should still only be performed by professionals.
Acupuncture for Back Pain
Back pain is the most common reason that people seek acupuncture. Most people will experience back pain at some point in their lives as a result of many factors including age, past or recent injury, weight, illness, lifestyle and diet. Acupuncture creates a flow of Qi through the body’s pathways, stimulating the body’s natural recovery. The Qi meridian points depend on the part of the back that the pain is most prevalent in.
For upper back pain, the acupuncture points are found on the head, neck, shoulders and upper back. For lower back pain, the acupuncture points are found on the back of the knees, feet, lower back, hands and hips. Additionally, acupuncture may help trigger the release of pain-killing endorphins into the muscles, spinal cord and brain. As an added benefit, acupuncture can reduce the risk of the back pain becoming chronic and help avoid the need for later invasive surgery.
Acupuncture for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect tissue and organs in the body. The primary targets of RA, however, are the synovial joints which are responsible for body movement and are especially susceptible to arthritis. Traditional acupuncture and electroacupuncture (which is a version of acupuncture that adds a mild electric current) have both been found to significantly lower tumor necrosis. Unlike traditional prescription medication, acupuncture does not have any negative side effects. Acupuncture for rheumatoid arthritis can be undertaken preventatively.
Acupuncture for Premenstrual Syndrome
Most women of reproductive age will experience physical and psychological symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, to varying degrees, at some point in their lives. Some of the physical symptoms include cramps (pain in the lower abdomen), sore breasts, and breakouts (pimples). By reducing serotonin levels and increasing endorphins and neuropeptide Y levels, as well as increasing relaxation and reducing tension, acupuncture can help reduce the symptoms of PMS. The meridian points for treating PMS are located in the abdomen, back, and arms and legs.
Acupuncture for Headaches
Headaches are one of the most common negative conditions that afflict humans, regardless of age and gender. There are several types of headaches, including tension headaches, cluster headaches, migraines, rebound headaches and thunderclap headaches. There are also several causes of headaches, but these can be classified broadly into two categories which are primary (the result of underlying brain processes) and secondary (caused by an underlying medical condition).
Acupuncture has been found to be very effective in both the relief and prevention of headaches and migraines by releasing endorphins, natural hormones that reduce the feeling of pain. The nausea which accompanies migraines can be relieved using acupuncture on the pressure points on the wrists. Headaches and migraines can be relieved by focusing on the pressure points in the face, head and neck.
Acupuncture for Sore Throat
Sore throats are another particularly common malady that affect people of all ages. Sore throats can be caused by dryness in the throat, a cold or flu, dry air, allergies, injury or irritants in the air. The pain may affect the area right behind the mouth (in which case it is called pharyngitis), the tonsils and the soft tissue in the back of the mouth (tonsillitis), or the larynx (laryngitis).
Depending on the cause, you may feel a scratchy, dry, burning, raw, tender or irritated sensation. To soothe sore throats, a form of acupuncture massage known as acupressure is employed. The Qi points for easing a sore throat are located on the hands, the arms, the fingers, and at the tip of the webbing between the big toe and the second toe.
Acupuncture health treatment is painless, as well as side-effect and risk free so long as hygiene guidelines are followed and the person administering the treatment is properly trained. It can be effective as a treatment for an assortment of other conditions that are not listed here, so if you are on the fence about giving it a try why not do a little research and speak with acupuncture practitioners in your vicinity? The result might just be a rich, health-enhancing experience that will change your life for good.