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Looking for another method of pain relief? Try Acupuncture!

Updated on June 5, 2014

Pain Pain and More Pain

Typically individuals are very quick to reach for pain relief in the form of capsule or other type of medication. Chronic pain in the muscles and joints can make life miserable. Standard treatments such as ice, heat, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy can ease some of the pain. But often people are in need of more relief then any of those can offer. Many don’t realize that acupuncture is actually a viable option for pain relief. Many people, such as myself, have a real fear of needles, and are terrified of the idea of having many stuck into their skin. However dramatic images aside, it really does have many benefits.

What exactly is acupuncture and how does it work?

Acupuncture involves the insertion of needles at various points on the body to heal itself and improve functioning. The various points are located along channels of energy that run in regular patterns through the body. These channels are often referred to as meridians. Long ago, the Chinese discovered that the flow of energy must flow freely through the meridians in order for the body to function properly. Acupuncture actually treats this obstruction of movement, by using needles to unblock the obstructions and reestablish the regular flow. With the many advances in modern science in the past few decades, it has been further determined that the acupuncture points stimulate the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord and the brain. These chemicals alter the sensation of pain, while triggering the release of hormones which influence the body’s own regulating system.


What are the basics of treatment by acupuncture?

Acupuncture is still fairly new therefore most people aren't sure what to expect or how to prepare for a treatment. In addition, there are some concerns about what they should do after a treatment. While acupuncture is a medical procedure, its also a wellness technique. Therefore you shouldn't be as concerned about sabotaging your treatment by carrying on with your every day life after the treatment. Yet there are some simple guidelines to help you make the most of your treatment.

During your acupuncture visit, the doctor will perform an assessment of your current condition. Be sure to wear comfortable clothing that will give the acupuncturist easy assess to any areas that are bothering you. It is also important to have a snack or light meal before you treatment, and avoid alcohol. In order to get the best assessment done, you don't want to go hungry. You should also let your acupuncturist know if you are exceptionally stressed or overworked. This will help them in deciding the best treatment. If you are extremely stressed you might need a few calming needles before your treatment. On the other hand, if you are extremely exhausted you will need a less vigorous technique.

The acupuncturist will begin by inserting very thin needles at specific places along your body, depending on what the treatment is for. The doctor will use single-use sterile needles, thinner than a strand of hair. Due to the thinness of the needles it is virtually painless and will be kept in place for 5 to 20 minutes. Additionally, the needles are not hollow with cutting edges like hypodermic needles, therefore there is very minimal skin irritation. Because the doctors use disposable needles, there is no risk of infection from the treatments.

After the treatment you can resume your normal activities. Avoid strenuous or rigorous exercise right after, but light exercise is fine. Side effects are typically far less than other forms of medication. Occasionally the original symptoms you are being treated for worsen for a few days before lessening. You also might experience general changes in appetite, sleep, bowel or urination patters, or emotional state. These indicate that the acupuncture is starting to work. It is very common to feel deep relaxation immediately following your treatment.

It is important that you do not use ice right after acupuncture. If you had swelling prior to your session, acupuncture works to reduce that, by getting the circulation flowing and your blood moving. When you apply ice it impedes that process. Cold contracts and slows things down. If you must ice a particular area wait a few hours after your treatment to apply. This is the amount of time needed to get your energy to settle after acupuncture.

The number of treatments needed will vary based on the individual. For acute problems a few treatments should be sufficient. However for more complex or chronic issues, more frequent visits may be required over a longer period of time. The cost per treatment usually ranges from $65 to $125 per session. Some insurers will cover the costs, however some will not, depends on the carrier.


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You are ready to try acupuncture.

If you are ready to try acupuncture, or seriously considering trying it, make sure to choose a certified and well-recommended provider. This is also a decision you should discuss with your primary physician and ensure it is an alternative treatment for your condition. While acupuncture is quite often a great choice for dealing with your condition, it might not always be the best solution. Your doctor will help you make that determination. But if you find that nothing else is working for your pain, it will certainly be worth a try. I am fairly confident that you will walk away happy with your treatment. One last thing before your treatment is to contact your insurance company and find out if they will cover the expense. If not the cost might still be worth it, but check with your insurance first. May the power of good health and less pain be with you!


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    • Leslie Ramos profile image

      Leslie Ramos 3 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      Thank you for reading! Are you still going through treatments? Glad to hear it was successful for you!

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 3 years ago

      I have tried acupuncture for my sore back and neck problems - excellent treatment that I would highly recommend. Up, interesting and useful.