Acupuncture and Pain

With close to 20 years in the alternative medical field, and after successfully treating thousands of patients with acupuncture for a myriad of ailments, it’s abundantly clear to me that acupuncture helps with pain most of the time. There are countless studies showing the effectiveness of acupuncture for pain and the World Health Organization has acupuncture listed as a proven modality to address many forms of pain.

One of the studies I reference was posted in the NY times in 2012 and hailed as one of the most rigorous and detailed analysis to date found that acupuncture “can ease migraines and arthritis and other forms of chronic pain.”

“The findings provide strong scientific support for an age-old therapy used by an estimated three million Americans each year….. Financed by the National Institutes of Health and carried out over about half a decade, the new research was a detailed analysis of earlier research that involved data on nearly 18,000 patients. The researchers, who published their results in Archives of Internal Medicine, found that acupuncture outperformed sham treatments and standard care when used by people suffering from osteoarthritis, migraines and chronic back, neck and shoulder pain.”

Acupuncture is the insertion of incredibly small sterile needles into points on the body in an effort to increase blood flow, reduce inflammation and move energy (in chinese medicine the idea is pain = stagnation i.e. blood and energy not moving). When needles are inserted, the body responds in ways that are measurable scientifically (neural-hormonal responses for example), and often in ways that are outside of our western explanation. Patients often describe odd sensations of movement in their bodies. I’ve often heard some version of “It felt like a hose was un-kinked.”

I have what I call “Pillars of my practice.” & One of them is the notion that as humans we make change in our lives when the not making of the change is a bigger burden. We’re complicated us humans, and often we’ll sit in the discomfort of familiarity even if t’s painful, until it becomes so bothersome that we’re willing to try something outside of our normal paradigm. I see acupuncture as being in a transitionary period. It’s still outside of our cultural medical norm, but that is quickly changing as more and more allopathic doctors are including acupuncture as part of their referral network.

So the invitation is this: Consider how much pain you are living in and consider the possibility that acupuncture may be a viable alternative.

Zachari Cahn is a licensed acupuncturist at the national and state level. He teaches and lectures internationally, is a certified yoga teacher and health coach.