Pain Relief with Acupuncture

Published in San Pedro Magazine, November 2007 Issue

About 25% of people in their 50s experience neck pain at some time; about 50% of people in their 60s experience neck pain; and almost 100% of people in their 70s experience neck pain. In addition, a lot of people suffer headaches, lower back pain, arthritis pain, knee pain, carpal tunnel numbness, etc. on a daily basis. Such chronic pain can lead to depression, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, and even body weight gain.

A lot of pain problems result from injuries or repetitive occupational activities. Most pain exhibits symptoms of tissue tightness, tissue inflammation, and loss of range of motion, and is treated with painkillers, muscle relaxants, or anti-inflammatory medicine. Unfortunately, such treatment often provides only temporary relief and the medicine can have a negative impact on our overall health.

Acupuncture has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to treat all sorts of diseases for thousands of years. There are three primary steps behind the methodology of acupuncture for relieving pain. The first step is to stimulate the corresponding organs to produce more energy and blood to nourish the whole body and especially the injured part so that the patient can recover from illness.

Chinese Medicine considers that there are eleven primary organs that are classified as "solid" (Zang) or "hollow" (Fu). The five Zang organs are the heart, lung, liver, spleen, and kidney, and the six Fu organs are the stomach, small intestine, large intestine, urine bladder, gall bladder, and "triple burner" (which has no Western equivalent). The functions of these primary organs are not entirely the same as those of Western Medicine organs. For example, the Spleen's primary function from TCM is to manipulate the nutrition and water for distributing the blood and water to nourish the whole body. The kidney's primary function is for growth, metabolism, and reproduction. Therefore selecting the appropriate organ for the illness is critical to reduce symptoms of the illness.

The second step is to select the path for the energy and blood to traverse. In TCM the paths of nutrition, blood, or energy distribution throughout the whole body are the Meridian Channels. There are twelve meridian channels connecting organs to the rest of the body on each side. In addition there are eight "extraordinary" channels. For speedy relief of illness, the correct meridian must be selected.

The third step is to select the acupuncture point to target the injured part. For example, acupuncture points in the abdominal region can relieve neck pain by selecting the appropriate organ, meridian channel, and acupuncture points. Thus, the enhanced energy and blood can transfer to the injured site and reduce the inflammation and relax the tissues as it relieves the pain more effectively. In addition, acupuncture can relieve back pain by working from every direction on every piece of tissue in the region. Therefore pain relief is usually immediate.

This approach is more efficient and effective due to the focus on the specific problem site as compared with the use of painkillers, muscle relaxants, or anti-inflammatory agents that work the whole body and which might impact on the health. Acupuncture is risk-free and almost painless as long as licensed and experienced practitioners perform it. Furthermore, acupuncture is appropriate for all ages. Newer illnesses generally take less effort to recover whereas chronic illnesses may take a longer time to get stable results. Acupuncture is also useful in coordination with Western Medicine to help speed recovery in such cases as post-surgical rehabilitation. In addition, acupuncture boosts the energy, helps relaxation and relieves depression, anxiety, and fatigue as well as helps weight control.

Ying Lee-Hoffman is owner of Harbor Acupuncture located at 29050 S. Western Ave. Suite #128 in Rancho Palos Verdes. For more information, call (310) 832-5722.