Pain can generally be classified as being either acute or chronic. The word "acute" may also be used to refer to the "acute phase of injury", meaning the immediate post-injury healing processes. Any pain that does not resolve within the specified parameters of time in relation to the nature of the injury or illness sustained may be considered "chronic". Many practitioners believe that pain which has been present for 6 months or less may be considered acute, while pain which has not resolved within 6 months may be considered chronic. Acupuncture seeks to resolve both phases by working to prevent acute pain from becoming chronic as well as obtaining a resolution for pain that has already entered the chronic phase, all without the use of potentially dangerous interventions and drugs which may cause harm if used for long periods of time. Rather than simply seeking a symptomatic resolution, acupuncture works by also addressing the underlying imbalance which is causing the pain.
Healthy Mind & Body
It has been known since the dawn of time that the mind is intricately connected to the body, and vice versa. When we experience any degree of physical illness or discomfort, the mind can be negatively affected in many ways. Conversely, when the mind is in a state of imbalance and poor health, the physical body can likewise be negatively affected as well. One of the main goals of acupuncture is to treat the mind and the body as one complete unit in order to alleviate pain and suffering, re-establish a healthy balance between mind and body, and improve the overall quality of one's life.
Conditions Treated By Acupuncture
Acupuncture is an ancient medical technique that has proven itself as a potent healing system for over 5,000 years. The World Health Organization has listed the following conditions for which the therapeutic effects of acupuncture have been shown to be of particular benefit in clinical studies: low back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, tennis elbow, dental pain, substance addiction & detoxification, headaches & migraines, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritic joint pain, TMJ, stress & anxiety, insomnia, depression, allergies, hypertension, nausea & vomiting (particularly as a result of morning sickness & chemotherapy), post-operative pain, sciatica, rheumatoid arthritis, sprain, stroke, and many other conditions and syndromes. In addition, acupuncture has been shown to promote circulation and modulate the release and distribution of various neurotransmitters and neurohormones while activating several key areas of the brain as well as the central nervous system.
EVIDENCE BASED MEDICINE
There have been numerous research studies which have demonstrated strong support for the efficacy of acupuncture for pain relief, even when compared to placebo or standard therapy alone. One of the most comprehensive of these studies of acupuncture therapy was conducted by Andrew J. Vickers (DPhil), Angel M. Cronin (MS) and Klaus Linde (MD).
In this study (published in 2012), the aforementioned researchers conducted a systematic review to identify randomized trials of acupuncture for chronic back, neck and shoulder pain as well as osteoarthritis and chronic headache.
Allocation concealment was determined unambiguously in this study to be adequate.
Individual patient data meta-analyses were conducted using data from 29 of 31 eligible trials, with a total of 17,922 patients analyzed.
The primary analysis of the results of this study of all eligible trials revealed that "acupuncture was superior to both sham and no acupuncture control for each pain condition."
The conclusion of this study revealed that "acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is therefore a reasonable referral option."
Arch Intern Med. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2013 Oct 22.
Published in final edited form as:
Arch Intern Med. 2012 Oct 22; 172(19): 1444-1453