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Acute / Chronic Pain Management

While acute pain is a sensation triggered by the nervous system to alert you that something in your body needs your attention, chronic pain is different.  Acute pain is your body’s warning system of injury and/or possible illness.  Chronic pain is pain that persists for long periods of time, usually 3 months or more.  The most common chronic pain complaints include: headaches, low back pain, knee pains, arthritic pain, cancer pain and neurogenic pain.

Pain ManagementChronic pain creates a vicious cycle of pain, lack of exercise, fatigue, depression, stress (both physical and emotional), and more pain.  In many cases, the pain greatly changes the quality of the patient’s lives.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), everything in the body functions dependently on the whole body.  Human body functions are dependent on the life force energy-Qi. Qi and blood flow through the meridian system, nourishing and protecting body tissues and helping them maintain their functions. If, however, the body is beset with disease or injury, normal pathological symptoms will appear and affect the organs and meridians. Once the meridian is blocked, the Qi and blood become stagnant and are not able to move smoothly. As a result, the patient feels pain, tingling, stiffness, bloating, and/or numbness. Hence the old TCM saying, “When there is a blockage, there is pain. Otherwise, there is no pain.”

The meridian system, and its divergent branches, is just like a network that covers the entire body. Each meridian is connected with a specific organ. The organ damage may show up from the meridian, and the local blockage of the meridian can affect the internal organ as well. That is why in TCM, when treating a pain condition, the practitioner rarely focuses on just the local pain, but also (and more importantly) works to rebalance and harmonize the whole body.

Meridian blockage can be caused by external pathogenic factors such as excessive cold, wind, dampness, dryness, fire (heat) or injury. Meridian blockage can also be caused by internal pathogenic factors that include: emotional factors such as anger, sadness, fear, stress, depression, as well as an internal organ deficiency or malfunction. Determining what exactly is the cause of the pain and which meridian is affected is extremely important in treating both acute and chronic pain. Generally speaking, relieving blood and Qi stasis, balancing the energy, nourishing the tissue, increasing circulation, and building up deficient organs are all ways that TCM treats pain. Acupuncture is used to correct the flow of Qi and break up stagnation of both Qi and blood; herbal medicine is often used to reestablish and balance Qi, blood and moisture in organ networks to eliminate pathological factors.

Clinical studies clearly support that acupuncture is an effective modality in the treatment of almost all kinds of pain conditions, including, but not limited to, the following: migraines, neuralgia, neck pain, back pain, herniated disc, TMJ, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, bursitis, arthritis, frozen shoulder, shoulder pain, fibromyalgia, dysmenorrhea, osteoporosis, sports and other injuries, surgical pain and even cancer pain. Researchers have discovered beneficial immune and endocrine alterations following acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture may actually help prevent pain by acting on the sympathetic nervous system and by stimulating the body to produce biochemical substances, such as endorphins, to help reduce pain.

Mesothelioma - Acupuncture has been linked to alleviating the nausea associated with chemotherapy and the pain incurred from the constant surgeries that cancer patients undergo. The Mesothelioma Center is an up-to-date resource for all mesothelioma (What is Mesothelioma?) issues ranging from mesothelioma statistics to diagnosis options.
 

References:

Acupuncture.com.  March 2007

Berman BM, Swyers JP. Establish a research agenda for investigating alternative medical interventions for chronic pain. Primary care; Clinics in office practice, 1997; volume 4 (4): December.

IMC’s concise review. Alternative Medical Therapies For Pain. Overview, 2. Integrative Medicine Communications.

IMC’s Concise Review. Alternative Medicinal Therapies For Pain. Integrative Medicine Communications.

Knardahl S, Elam M, Olausson B, Wallin BG. Sympathetic Nerve Activity After Acupuncture in Humans. 1998; 75 (1): 19-25.
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