by Jennifer M. Williams, PhD, L.Ac, BCIM, ADS
Pain is a subjective sensation caused by actual or potential tissue damage. Receptors send signals through neural pathways that enter the spinal cord and to the brain. The primary pain can be a sharp prickly sensation in the local area. Secondary pain can occur in tissue anywhere along the pathway or anywhere the associated nerves are innervated, including organs. Pain feels more intense when tissues are subject to peptides and chemicals that cause inflammation. Opiates mask the pain while analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs reduce inflammation. The temporary relief is fine for acute conditions, but continued use leads to adverse side effects and diminished results.
Acupuncture for Pain
Acupuncture is an ideal treatment for pain and becoming increasing popular among soldiers, Veterans, athletes, moms, desk jockeys, and the aging. Points are strategically selected to treat symptoms and etiology. Much like opiates, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory drugs, proper placement of acupuncture needles release tense muscles along with various neuropeptides. Enkephalin, beta-endorphin, endomorphin, and dynorphin opioid peptides create a swift therapeutic effect while addressing the etiology.
A common etiology for acute pain is muscle strain. Acupuncture releases the muscle from an active state while the therapeutic opiod peptides further relax the entire muscle. If you look at a dermatome map, you can see where bands of innervated nerves follow a pathway either around the torso, head, or to the ends of limbs. This usually only requires one acupuncture treatment.
A common etiology for chronic pain is nerve compression. Unresolved muscle strain does not allow full recovery which can result is tight areas or knots. Tight musles can also pull vertabrae and hip bones resulting in herniated disks, bone spurs, and damaged tissue. This may require two to five treatments.