Acupuncture, Physiotherapy and Chronic Pain: Tiny needles can offer major relief.
Acupuncture works by stimulating the brain and central nervous system to release natural pain relieving hormones, such as endorphins. Due to this pain relieving affect, acupuncture combined with physiotherapy is the perfect combination to help relieve many people from the pain they live with every day.
The premise of acupuncture is the idea that energy called Qi (pronounced chee) travels in pathways (called meridians) though the body. When qi is blocked, weak or disrupted it can result in pain. Acupuncture involves inserting hair-thin needles into specific points along the meridians, to help improve the flow of Qi and rebalance the body.
With Chronic Pain, the body is often in constant “fight or flight” mode; muscles and joints are often restricted, nerves are over sensitised, hormones related to stress and inflammation are circulating. Acupuncture can help calm the system down, reducing aches and pains, stress and anxiety and promoting a good night’s sleep.
From a Western Science point of view, neuro-scientists have discovered that the tiny needles used, have a local response at the tissues to reduce pain, but also de-activate or calm down centres in the brain normally associated with pain.
Acupuncture treatment is very much tailored to the individual. Some patients with chronic pain may not feel able to tolerate any level of touch, even a tiny needle, at the site of pain. However often needles are used at “distal points” (away from the pain, but on the pathway/meridian of the pain.) These points have a powerful analgesic effect, without actually entering the site of pain.
Other patients may tolerate dry needling direct to muscles knots and tight soft tissues which can also have a very beneficial effect of releasing tension at a local level.
There is a growing body of scientific research to support its effects. Recent research looking at over 18,000 patients concluded that acupuncture has emerged as a viable complementary treatment to conventional pain management for patients wishing to seek alternatives to opioids. (Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: The Latest Research” Areta Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH November 2017. ) (http://wb.md/2iWY4J7.)
Mary Green. BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy/ MCSP, MHCPC, MAACP.