I have written a few posts on Acupuncture and the benefits to pain on this blog. Numerous studies have shown that acupuncture is effective in relieving knee pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain and neck pain. As the world continues to adapt to the ‘new normal’ brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, work from home schedules are leading to a rise in cases involving lower back pain, hip pain, and stiffness in the neck and shoulders.
According to The Health Site as per the World Health Organisation (WHO), one out of every six persons in India suffers from some form of arthritis. This roughly accounts for 15-17 per cent of the entire population. Apart from arthritis, back pain affects another 25-30 per cent of people in India and musculoskeletal disorders account for a further 20-25 per cent of chronic pain that affects the nerves, tendons, joints, muscles, and ligaments. To add to the woes, the International Osteoporosis Foundation reports that almost 50 million people in the country are vulnerable to fractures. As compared to westerners, the bone mineral levels in Indians are 15 per cent lower, which can lead to early fractures. The bone health of our nation’s population is taking a beating as people continue to spend more time indoors.
The theory and practice of acupuncture originated in China. It was first mentioned and recorded in documents dating a few hundred years before the Common Era. Earlier instead of needles sharpened stones and long sharp bones were used around 6000 BCE for acupuncture treatment.
The word “acupuncture” means “needle piercing”. It is a traditional Chinese medical treatment using very fine needles, which are inserted into the skin at any of the 800 specially-designated points. It originated from a Dutch physician, William Ten Rhyne, who had been living in Japan during the latter part of the 17th century and it was he who introduced it to Europe.
A study conducted at Sheffield University in the UK looked at the long-term symptom reduction and economic benefits of acupuncture for persistent pain, An average of 8 acupuncture treatments was given to 159 people, while 80 received usual care instead.
After one year, people receiving acupuncture had reduced pain and reported significant reduction in worry about their pain compared to the usual care group. After two years, the acupuncture group was significantly more likely to report that the past year had been pain free. They were less likely to use medication for pain.
A scientific explanation is that acupuncture releases natural pain-relieving opioids, sends signals that calm the sympathetic nervous system, and releases neurochemicals and hormones.
Dove Press wrote that ‘A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials’, showed that ‘Acupuncture therapy is an effective and safe treatment for patients with FM, and this treatment can be recommended for the management of FM.’
Without balance in our bodies, there are many health-related problems we can encounter and having an Acupuncture treatment can help to restore your body systems to the right balance. They are quite often referred to as Yin (which is negative) and Yang (which is positive).
The Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapist’s explains how Acupuncture works. The acupuncture needle will stimulate the flow of QI [pronounced ‘chee’], which circulates in channels or meridians within the body. The QI circulates within the deeper organs of the body but connects to the superficial skin. In the state of a normal healthy body, a balance exists between these systems. Both the superficial energy and the deeper energy can be influenced by the stimulation of specific acupuncture points. If injury, disease, emotional trauma or infection occurs, the natural flow of QI within the meridians and organs may well be affected and the result is an altered flow, either a slowing or stagnation of QI causing pain and inflammation, or a deficit of QI, which may cause weakness, exhaustion and longer debilitating disease. The stimulation of relevant acupuncture points may free stagnation, reduce excess or indeed, increase QI to the specific area or organ and thus help to restore normal QI flow and balance.