Understanding Pain Mechanisms through Acupuncture

SalterraAcupuncture, Pain Management

Pain is often associated with the sensation of prickling, burning, stinging, or tingling. On some occasions, pain presents itself with a combination of two or three of the said sensations and may last for some time. The causes range from an extremely uncomfortable office chair to gastric ulcers to arterial inflammations. Though perceived mostly by physical means, pain can develop a psychological extent after the body heals.

Ever since the advancements of medical approaches and therapeutic alternatives, methods have been established and research has been conducted in pursuit to alleviate pain, even to the extent of preventing its recurrence.  One remarkable tool in alleviating the causes of pain is acupuncture.

Acupuncture originated in China.  It is believed to be the influence of the Taoist philosophy which incorporates teachings about increasing longevity of life and regulating consciousness and diet.  A document dating 100 BCE entitled, ‘The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine’ describes therapeutic methods and system known to us now as acupuncture.

It has also been socially accepted in Japan and Korea for some time. Owing to the changes brought about by time and diverse-conventional approaches to the craft, acupuncture now is a product of the combination of different ideas and theories with supporting studies and clinical applications in respect to the different treatments it encompasses and healing approach it targets. Needless to say, it is a multi-faceted therapy. It has evolved from an empirical thought and method into an ‘experience-output-based medicine’.

Pressure points are targeted by the insertion of needles into the body’s surface, with the exception of the spinal bulb, spinal cord, the eyeballs, testicles, and any internal organs. This method encourages mechanical stimulation of the body’s inherent capacity to heal itself. Pressure points are the site of this reaction. Each point corresponds to an equivalent condition being treated.

Targeting these pressure points works in three ways: stimulation, inhibition, and diversion. Thus, experiencing one of the following desired effects: (1) strengthening and reviving weakened internal organs, (2) sedation on overactive organs, and (3) diversion of blood circulation to mediate excessive blood flow or inflammation. Upon insertion of the needles, patients may be asked to lie down, sit or stand depending on where and how the needles are to be inserted.

As much as it is appealing to experience acupuncture, there are also people who are afraid of this therapeutic method. People who have fears of needles would likely perceive this as a method of inflicting pain rather than alleviating pain.

Acupuncturists nowadays find it convenient and more effective to start the therapy from distal to proximal (far part of the body to the central part of the body). This is to reassure that the therapy guides the circulation from the far part of the body towards the center and then back. The duration of the treatment varies from one patient to another, from mild to moderate or less severe pain.

When divulging oneself to the relaxing nature of acupuncture, a supplemental therapies including cupping, gua sha, and acupressure.  Acupressure or ‘Reflexology’ may also be appealing as it is an application of pressure, though only to hands and feet with specific thumb and finger techniques, without the use of needles.