What Types of Pain Does Acupuncture Help?

When it comes to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture is a treatment familiar to many seeking drug-free pain relief. This alternative medicine involves inserting thin needles into the skin, subcutaneous tissue, and muscle at any of 2,000 specific points on the body. It is believed that these points are connected by 12 meridians that conduct energy, or “Qi,” between the surface of the body and the internal organs. The theory behind the approach is that blockages and imbalances can cause illness and pain while acupuncture seeks to maintain balance and restore health. Acupunture is also often combined with heat, pressure, or electrical stimulation.

Typically, those undergoing acupuncture are asked to lie still as anywhere from 5 to 20 needles are inserted and left in place for 10 to 20 minutes. Acupuncture is relatively cost-effective compared to other therapies and the risk of adverse effects is generally considered much lower than pharmacological treatments. This slideshow shows 5 types of chronic pain that acupuncture may help to relieve.

- Reported by Melissa Summers

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Low Back Pain
Back pain is one of the most common reasons that people seek acupuncture treatment, and studies on chronic low back pain have shown that the therapy can provide short-term relief and improve function. Some research has demonstrated that acupuncture can be more effective in relieving symptoms from acute low back pain than medications. Patients with nonspecific chronic low back pain have reported improvements in functional limitations with acupuncture. A common regimen for chronic low back pain is 11 25-minute sessions, performed twice a week.