Managing Pain with Acupuncture
Living with pain is debilitating. Regardless of whether the pain is chronic or acute, having physical discomfort drastically affects a person’s quality of life. Understanding the causes and symptoms of different types of pain can help you get the best treatments to find relief. You don’t have to live with your discomfort forever.
Pain is generally described by its location. Acupuncture treats all types of pain – from muscle pain to golfer’s and tennis elbow, from back to shoulder pain to sciatica, to fibromyalgia. Acupuncture can help. For more on how acupuncture treats pain, visit my About Chinese Medicine page.
Acupuncture treats joint pain
Joint pain is a condition that many people experience at some point. Joints are where two bones intersect, and are supported by other types of tissues — tendons, ligaments, cartilage. All of these together allow movement and flexibility. Painful joints can result when direct injury, inflammation, infection, or degeneration (as in arthritis) affects any of these components.
Some causes of joint pain can affect any or all joints — the elbow, hip, knee, or shoulder. These causes include arthritis, tendinitis, and bursitis. Other diagnoses are specific to certain joints but may have counterparts in the others. For example, Jumper’s Knee is a form of tendinitis, which can occur in any joint.
It’s important to note that Lyme disease, which is caused by a bacteria carried by ticks, can cause joint pain. If the discomfort moves from one joint to another or is accompanied by rash or flu-like symptoms, then you should be tested for Lyme disease and not just treat the pain symptoms.
Acupuncture treats muscle pain, too
Muscle pain often follows strenuous exercise, or muscle pain can be a result of stress, poor posture or ergonomics (the way you move). At some point in their life, everyone has had a stressful day, followed by a night of restless sleep, and then woke up with a crick in their neck. Neck tension and pain in your neck is one of the most common conditions treated by Chinese medicine. In fact, I usually give all of my patients some tui na massage on their neck because everyone has neck tension from the busy lives we lead. In general, tui na massage is an important part of any muscle pain acupuncture treatment.
Many insurance plans now cover acupuncture for pain
Covering acupuncture for pain relief has become an increasingly more common health insurance benefit. Insurance companies cover acupuncture because acupuncture can stop pain very well and is more cost effective, too. I am in-network provider with Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield and an out-of-network provider for Aetna, Cigna and United Healthcare/Oxford. To find out if your insurance policy covers acupuncture for pain, please email me through the contact form on the Contact Page. Follow the instructions on that page to make sure you’re sending the correct information to check eligibility.
How does acupuncture treat pain?
On the About Chinese Medicine page, I talk about the body being covered by a network of acupuncture meridians like the highways that criss-cross the country. In fact, there are five levels of meridians covering the body, ranging from superficial to deep. When the Qi circulating in the meridians at any level becomes blocked, pain is created.
Chinese medicine treats pain by removing these blockages to allow the Qi to move freely. Acupuncture is said to course the Qi through the meridians. I also use herbal medicine to encourage the free movement of Qi in the body to stop discomfort. In fact, we have a number of herbs that stop pain as a primary function. Tui na massage works to stop pain by relaxing muscles, encouraging the flow of blood and lymph, and calming the mind (pain also affects one’s mental state). Using adjunct therapies like moxibustion, cupping and gua sha to help treat aches and other discomfort can be helpful in certain instances.
What kinds of pain does acupuncture treat?
Acupuncture treats a wide range of pain conditions, like:
- In the back and neck
- In the hip (arthritis and sciatica)
- More on sciatica on the Sciatica page
- In the knee (runner’s knee, arthritis, bursitis)
- In the ankle and foot (sprained ankle, Morton’s neuroma, bunion)
- In the shoulder (frozen shoulder, capsulitis, tendinitis)
- Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
- In the elbow (tennis and golfer’s elbow)
- In the wrist and hand (carpal tunnel, arthritis, trigger finger, De Quervain’s tenosynovitis)
- Headache and migraine
- In the jaw and TMJ
- Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome
- Trigeminal neuralgia
- Post-herpetic neuralgia
To read more about using Chinese medicine to treat pain, click on the links above.