This method is becoming more and more mainstream. And here’s why…
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Long-term pain relief solution
Years ago, I used to get blinding headaches that would not go away. They were really bad, and I had to take pain meds to knock them out.
Today, it’s been all over the news that opioids can cause major addictions. The same ones I would take all those years ago.
And NSAIDs – such as Aleve, Advil, and Motrin – they can cause high blood pressure, stomach pain, ulcers, dizziness, ringing in the ears, and erectile dysfunction.
Usually, these side effects only occur with consistent use over time.
Unfortunately, if you have chronic pain that’s probably how you’re taking pain meds.
The one big exception to this is aspirin. Aspirin can be a miracle for people. (But that’s a subject for another day.)
Because I like to avoid long-term use of most pain meds, I’m always interested in research that offers safe and effective alternatives.
Even if it might make me look like a porcupine for a couple of hours.
Acupuncture used to be viewed as pretty “woo-woo,” but now it’s becoming more and more mainstream.
And it is amazing. It not only works, but a relatively short treatment cycle can give significant pain relief for up to a year.
Acupuncture for chronic pain
One of the things I always like to look at in trials is how they’re set up – because wobbly setups lead to wobbly data.
This study was set up well and it was a randomized blind trial.
“Randomized controlled multicenter trial, blinded to participants and to data analysts.”
In this trial, participants got either real acupuncture or fake acupuncture to treat chronic pain from fibromyalgia.
The fake acupuncture was used to overcome the placebo effect, so the researchers would know if the real thing really worked better.
“Participants were randomly assigned to either the real intervention (individualized acupuncture, IA) or the sham intervention (sham acupuncture, SA).”
In both groups, they had one session a week for 10 weeks.
“In both the IA and SA groups, one session per week (lasting 20 min) was provided, in addition to usual pharmacological treatment. The primary outcome was change in pain intensity at 10 weeks.”
The fibromyalgia patients that got the real acupuncture had a much higher decrease in pain than the sham group.
And that showed that acupuncture really works to lower pain.
“Intention-to-treat analysis revealed that the decrease in pain intensity at 10 weeks was greater in the IA group than in the SA group…”
Acupuncture can be a good long-term solution.
For the patients in this study, it was still working a full year later without any additional treatments past the 10 weeks!
At the one-year follow-up point, there were still significant decreases in pain for the real acupuncture group.
“During the follow-up period, significant differences…in favor of the IA group persisted at 12 months…”
This study was on fibromyalgia patients.
But since acupuncture is low-risk and the science supports that it works, I would certainly say that it’s worth a try if you suffer from chronic pain for any reason.
What to look for in an acupuncturist
Most US states require some level of testing and licensing by the NCCAOM (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) for acupuncturists.
Here’s a map of what every state requires in 2018.
I would look for someone with the NCCAOM licensing myself.
That way I’m sure the person sticking me with needles knows what they are doing.
Chronic pain can be debilitating and it’s important to know about all the tools in your toolbox so that you can treat it as effectively as possible… and with as few side effects as possible.
But if you’re not into acupuncture, there’s something very special about pain relief in the important message below…
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What Are NSAIDs for Arthritis?
State Licensure Requirements Interactive map
Acupuncture is a popular alternative form of health intervention which uses thin needles at strategic power points in the body. This is believed to release stress and is commonly used to treat pain.
Acupuncture is based on the idea that inserting these needles helps to release "life force" that flows through the power points (meridians) in the body. It also helps in stimulating the connective tissues and nerves in the body that aids to boost the body's natural healing processes. According to several research reports in Western and Eastern medicine, there are as many as 1000 pressure points in the body. When stimulated, these cells release healthy endorphins and life force energy waves which are considered very rejuvenating and healing.
This is fast becoming a trend worldwide as many support its healing benefits.
Some of the disorders for which acupuncture is usually recommended are Neck pain, Lower Back pain and in some forms of arthritis. Acupuncture is also used for treating chronic anxiety and depression. People suffering from Migraines and Sciatica usually get great benefits from Acupuncture. Some experts recommend Acupuncture for those who suffer from chronic knee pain.
But does "inserting needles" backfire? Does it cause problems?
What are some acupuncture side effects?
As simple as it is, the needles might stand a risk. Insertion of needles might cause soreness and even bleeding. Bruises and scar formation can cause skin problems in the long run if proper attention and care are not taken. The pain and bleeding from the insertion of needs can also cause skin rashes and also cause skin allergies among those whose body is allergic to needles. In some cases, it was also found that certain people complain of dizziness and nausea when undergoing acupuncture.
Bacterial infections are also possible where the needles have ruptured the skin. But this is only possible if the needles are not sterilized or if the acupuncturist practices bad hygienic practices.
Not everyone's body can deliver positive results with Acupuncture. Well, the simple reason is that every body's body is different. Somebody with a bleeding disorder can be negatively affected by this therapy. If your present medication has blood thinners in it, then one should not consider acupuncture.
Taking the right steps is important before you consider acupuncture. Always get the recommendations of a doctor. It is prudent to get to know a professional's training and credentials.
Usually, there is no discomfort experienced when these super thin needles are inserted. But according to a report published in Scientific Reports, it was noted that broken needle points and blood vessel injury can happen. This is usually caused by untrained Acupuncture professionals but this effect can be lethal.
Insertion of the needle might also cause injury to the spinal cord, cause hemorrhage and other injuries to the organs and skin tissues. This if not checked can be lethal. Instances, where unsterilized needles are used, can prove lethal for the patients. It has also been found that, when the needles are inserted deeply .e.g the chest, it might create a puncture in the lungs or any other vital places. So it is very important that one should undergo this treatment only in the hands of a reviewed and recommended expert.
Fatigue is an additional side effect of acupuncture. This might not be a cause for concern but it means that one's energy source is depleted and rest is needed. In some very rare occasions, a person undergoing acupuncture can feel nausea or faint. Acupuncture can be an emotional and physically intensive therapy, so one should pay attention to rest after a therapy session.
For some acupuncture can release stored or pent up emotions. This release of energy and emotions is not a negative experience but if it gets out of control, one should talk with your acupuncturist.