Acupuncture can be used as a stand-alone treatment, or in combination with manual therapies and to support conventional treatment.
Treating pain with acupuncture
One of the main principles when treating pain in Chinese Medicine is bu tong ze tong (“不通则痛”): which translates to – when things do not flow smoothly, there is pain.
This is referring to the movement of blood and its driving force, qi (energy). When there is restriction, for example muscle spasm or tightness it restricts the flow of blood and qi causing pain. Therefore, one of the primary treatment principle is to promote a smooth flow of qi and blood to reduce pain and promote healing.
It is also important to understand the underlying cause of the pain. This is because acupuncture not only aims to reduce pain but understand and treat its cause.
When treating pain conditions with acupuncture and Chinese medicine it is important to understand how the pain is experienced. Some things your practitioner will want to know are: Where does it hurt? Is the pain constant or does it come and go? Is it dull or sharp? What makes it better? What makes is worse? What triggers the pain?
- According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), a number of studies suggest that acupuncture works particularly well for chronic pain such as back and neck pain; osteoarthritis/knee pain; and headache. Often it reduces the frequency and severity of tension headaches and may prevent migraines. It is because of this that the NIH concludes, “acupuncture appears to be a reasonable option for people with chronic pain to consider.”
- The Nation Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends acupuncture for tension headaches and chronic pain.
- The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) has a series of fact sheets. These summarise research on a variety of conditions and the evidence base for their treatment with acupuncture.