Supporting Pain Management with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs

Pain is one of the most common reasons that people seek acupuncture treatment. Pain can present itself in many different ways both physically and mentally.

Acupuncture treatment can help to treat a variety of musculo-skeletal conditions that cause pain such as sports injuries, repetitive strain and rheumatological or degenerative disorders as well as chronic internal pain from illness or inflammation.

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Acupuncture and herbs have been helping people manage pain for thousands of years

Traditional Chinese medicine theory states that ‘when there is free flow, there is no pain’. We use acupuncture (as well as massage and moxa) to restore balance and create free flow in order to reduce pain, promote recovery and prevent the development of a chronic condition.

Acupuncture can help relive pain from acute injuries, like sprains and strains, as well as more chronic or ‘invisible’ pain like headaches, back ache or abdominal pain.

Chronic painful conditions, such as fibromyalgia, can benefit from treatment to reduce pain and to reduce the fatigue and anxiety associated with the condition. We always take a full case history to try and identify the root cause of pain so we can treat it fully rather than looking at each symptom in isolation. For example, a patient may seek treatment for joint pain associated with arthritis but also experience headaches, digestive discomfort and insomnia. We try to establish a link between all the symptoms to determine a root diagnosis, this allows us to focus on treating the whole person from all angles. In this way, treatment is concentrated on the joint pain and any contributing factors so in addition to less pain, the patient may notice improvements to their headaches, digestion and sleep.

Pain management

Science suggests that acupuncture works by stimulating the release of natural steroids and endorphins that reduce pain and inflammation, promoting local blood circulation and lymphatic drainage and relaxing the muscles. From a traditional perspective, we look to restore the free-flow of qi to balance the body and support the body’s own constitution so that it is strong enough to maintain health.

Eastern medicine has a different approach to identifying and managing pain. Sometimes all we need to do is find the right ‘switch’, which may be located somewhere away from the source of pain, to resolve it. We can map which channels have been damaged and restore the free flow of qi so the patient heals faster and with less likelihood of complication.

I believe there is always something we can offer to help relieve and hopefully resolve pain no matter how chronic or severe. The benefit of acupuncture is that it is not a drug; it can be used alongside most medication, it is non-invasive and will not create negative side-effects like drowsiness that some pain medication can create. There are different styles and techniques of acupuncture that mean we don’t even need to touch the area of pain in order to treat it; using Dr Tan’s Balance System we may put needles in your ankle to treat your wrist. Other techniques involve the stimulation motor or trigger points to relax or activate muscles, scalp or ear needling to activate the nervous system or traditional channel based treatments.

A number of commonly used drug treatments for chronic primary pain have little or no evidence that they work and shouldn’t be prescribed.

Acupuncture is recommended as an option for some people with chronic primary pain, provided it is delivered within certain, clearly defined parameters.

UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)
Draft guidelines published 03/08/2020

Helpful Links

If you want to find out more about how Chinese Medicine can help you, please get in touch to discuss treatment options and appointment availability. In the meantime, here are a few links you may find useful: