Got Pain? Why You Should Try Acupuncture

Got Pain? Why You Should Try Acupuncture

  • Knee Pain

For many of us, who suffer from injuries or pain, we eventually seek medical help.  According to recent surveys, 80% of Americans will suffer from some pain at some point.  Many of these folks, suffer from chronic pain- defined as pain that has persisted for more than 3 months. Current options to manage pain include a myriad of options from physical therapy, dry needling, anti inflammatory medicines and as a last resort opioids. Given the recent opioid crisis, there has been a substantial push to reconsider options to manage pain.

Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years, some research even theorizing as early as 3300 BCE.  It began in China, using finely sharpened tools, and has since developed into a widely used medical practice.  It’s effectiveness has been appreciated for millenia, however, we have only recently began to understand how it actually works. It is estimated that about 2 billion people a year will get acupuncture treatments annually and it is used for a myriad of different conditions.  There have been multiple research studies, using MRIs, blood tests, and other methods, which have shown some of the amazing results acupuncture can have on a multitude of ailments.

A few studies have had patients receive acupuncture therapy, while a brain MRI was performed.  This testing showed consistent activation of different parts of the brain, which control different functions in the body, including pain perception, and mood.  For instance, studies comparing acupuncture and simple touching of the same areas (tactile stimulation), while an MRI was observing brain function, have shown that the amygdala and the hippocampus are deactivated during acupuncture, but not nearly as much during the tactile stimulation.  These two areas of the brain are activated during stress, hunger, pain, and other negative emotions. De-activating these areas will decrease the body’s perception of these negative emotions, therefore helping to manage depression, over-eating, and chronic pain.

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Acupuncture can have chemical impacts as well.  These impacts are due to the effects on neurotransmitters and endorphins, which help with mood and pain.  Acupuncture has been shown to increase the levels neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and seratonin, while decreasing noradrenaline.  Dopamine and seratonin play major roles in feelings of well-being and happiness. Noradrenaline is released during periods of stress, so decreasing the release of this neurotransmitter, can decrease the perception of stress.  Additionally, acupuncture has been shown to increase endogenous opioid peptides, or endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain relievers. These studies answer some of the questions as to how acupuncture can help with depression, anxiety, and pain.  

The Eastern medicine theory on the way acupuncture works, is due to qi (pronounced “chee”), or the body’s energy.  Qi flows through certain pathways, called meridians, and when these meridians are disrupted, the body reacts with pain.  There are twelve different meridians,
each corresponding to a different body system. The acupuncturist would follow the meridian map, according to the patient’s medical concern, and place needles in specific areas along the targeted pathway.  Doing so restores the body’s qi, and helps it flow smoothly through the meridians.

Joanna Wroblewska, MD has a quite unique perspective to this.  She is board certified in anesthesiology and pain management. On a typical day, she will treat patients with headaches, migraines, neck pain, back pain and even musculoskeletal pains such as joint pains.  With over a decade of experience, she has developed an exceptional perspective on how pain affects patients, not just physically, but emotionally, psychologically and socially.

Joanna has studied acupuncture and she integrates components of acupuncture into her daily medical practice. She acknowledges that acupuncture is not for everything or everyone, but it has a role.  When performed well, it has lasting results and can certainly supplement current
westernized approaches. She integrates acupuncture with current western treatments to treat various conditions and her patients are benefiting from this approach.

Acupuncture has various mechanisms of how it works.  The most postulated theory is that it helps stimulate your body’s own neural and hormonal systems to help create a balance within your body’s environment. Acupuncture is no longer an exotic treatment, but rather a very well accepted form of medical treatment.

Speak with our providers- Margaret Truesdell- PA-C and Joanna Wroblewska, MD to understand how acupuncture can have a lasting impression to benefit your health.  We welcome you to experience this unique combination of western medicine and acupuncture!

References

Han, J S. “Acupuncture and Endorphins.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 6 May 2004, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15135942.

Huang, Wenjin, et al. “Characterizing Acupuncture Stimuli Using Brain Imaging …” National Institute of Health, National Center for Biotechnology Information, 9 Apr. 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3322129/.

Hui, Kathleen, et al. “Acupuncture, the Limbic System, and the Anticorrelated …” National Institute of Health, National Center for Biotechnology Information, 27 Aug. 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3754836/.

Wen, Guoqiang, et al. “Effect of Acupuncture on Neurotransmitters/Modulators.” Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 5 Apr. 2016, uthealth.influuent.utsystem.edu/en/publications/effect-of-acupuncture-on-
neurotransmittersmodulators.

Wen, Guoqiang, et al. “Effect of Acupuncture on Neurotransmitters/Modulators.” Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 5 Apr. 2016, uthealth.influuent.utsystem.edu/en/publications/effect-of-acupuncture-on-
neurotransmittersmodulators.

Wen, Guoqiang, et al. “Effect of Acupuncture on Neurotransmitters/Modulators.” Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 5 Apr. 2016,
uthealth.influuent.utsystem.edu/en/publications/effect-of-acupuncture-on-
neurotransmittersmodulators.

White, A. “A Brief History of Acupuncture.” Rheumatology, vol. 43, no. 5, 2004, pp. 662–663., doi.org/10.1093/rheumatology/keg005.

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