The thought of treating pain by sticking yourself with dozens of tiny needles might sound like a misnomer. After all, wouldn’t this make the problem worse by creating more pain? The holistic practice of acupuncture is a safe and effective solution for relieving pain. Whether it’s chronic or temporary pain, acupuncture has proven effective time and time again at relieving pain.
The Basics of Pain and How It’s Created
According to a national survey, more than one third of adults in the U.S. have recently experienced pain lasting more than a day. Pain is the nervous system’s response to some form of stimuli. It may consist of sudden, sharp spikes in a localized area (e.g. lower back pain), or it can encompass the entire body with a lighter, more dull aching sensation (e.g. muscle aches from a bacterial or viral infection).
When we are physically hurt, nociceptive pain receptors are activated, which subsequently sends electrical signals through the spinal cord and to the brain. This, of course, creates the distinct painful feeling that everyone has experienced at some point in their life.
Pain Relief Through Acupuncture
The use acupuncture for pain relief dates back thousands of years. While various cultures throughout the world have known about its pain-relieving properties for quite some time, science is just now allowing us to understand exactly what causes this effect.
Acupuncture’s pain-relieving properties lie within its biochemical effects. Acupuncture is believed to “downregulate” M1 macrophages and upregulates M2 macrophages, which subsequently releases more IL-10 (interleukin-10) concentrations.
So, what does this all mean and how does it relate to pain relief? IL-10 is anti-inflammatory cytokine that reduces swelling and inflammation as well as pain; therefore, promoting higher levels of IL-10 through acupuncture will naturally relieve pain. Placing acupuncture needles in target areas throughout the body triggers biochemical reactions that lead to higher levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10.
Acupuncture essentially triggers the body’s own self-healing mechanism. Each time a tiny needle is placed into the skin, the body responds by undergoing various biological changes. In turn, these changes generate the production of a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-pain chemical.
Benefits of Treating Pain Through Acupuncture
- No harmful side effects, such as those typically experienced by regular users of acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin.
- Pain relief doesn’t diminish from long-term use of acupuncture.
- Fact-acting, often yielding pain relief within minutes.
- Strengthens the body’s immune system.
- Safe, painless procedure that’s performed by a licensed acupuncturist.