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Acupuncture and Pain Management: What the Science Is Saying

When most people think of acupuncture they often think of its use in the realm of pain management. It's not much of a surprise to people that acupuncture is great for pain but what is the mechanism of action and why does it work so well for this common complaint? The following are a few of the most common conclusions to these questions.

1. The Gate Theory:

One popular mechanism explaining acupuncture's role in pain management is referred to as the Gate Theory. Simply put, this "gate" controls how much sensory information gets through to our brain. If the "gate" is open, we will feel pain. If the "gate" is closed, pain is diminished. Acupuncture is able to close the "gate" and stop the pain. However, the Gate theory fails to explain why acupuncture is so successful at treating health problems which are not necessarily pain related (ie nausea, digestive problems, menstrual issues etc).

2. Acupuncture Releases our Natural Pain Killers:

Many scientific studies have shown that acupuncture initiates the release of our body's natural pain killers or endogenous opioids; also commonly known as endorphins. Dr. Bruce Pomeranz, at the University of Toronto, has researched this area extensively and is world renowned for his discoveries.


3. Decrease Inflammation and Swelling:

Acupuncture has the unique ability to minimize swelling and inflammation. It is thought that acupuncture is able to control the release of many different types of neurotransmitters which influence pain and swelling. This mechanism is said to be hormone related.

4. Relax Muscles and Stops Spasms:

Injured muscles want to protect themselves and they do this by tightening or going into spasm (self-defense mechanism). This causes pain. Acupuncture is able to relax the muscles and effectively decrease the tension and spasms. Pain is therefore reduced.

5. Increases Circulation to Injured Area

With the insertion of an acupuncture needle, the body immediately recognizes it as a foreign object. This sets off a chain reaction which primarily involves an increase in blood flow to the injured area. This increased blood flow brings along with it more oxygen, nutrients and immune related cells which ultimately hasten recovery time.

Much more research is needed to adequately explain acupuncture's role in pain management. The bottom line is that it works safely and naturally with minimal side-effects (bruising can happen from time to time).

If you haven't tried acupuncture for your pain, take the next step and book with Drew today.

1 comment:

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