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The Expression Of Pain

Decades of research studies have repeatedly shown the benefits of acupuncture for the treatment of pain, so much so that the American College of Physicians recommends acupuncture and other non-drug therapies for the treatment of acute and sub-acute low back pain. This recommendation dates back to 2017, and since then I've seen an uptick in referrals from Western medical doctors, including primary care physicians, pain management doctors and podiatrists. 

The experience of pain can have quite a spectrum. Pain can be sharp, dull, heavy, achy, numbing, burning and stabbing. It can be constant or pain may come and go without any obvious reason. The degree of pain can vary from person to may find a paper cut to be extremely painful whereas another may not feel any pain. 

Finding the source of pain can be obvious or a bit more elusive. Pain may originate from a specific area or it may refer away from the source. Sometimes pain generates from one joint, muscle or other body part and other times multiple areas are involved.

All of these considerations make it seem like pain can be quite complicated to address, but the beauty of acupuncture is that each treatment is customized to each patient's presentation, which is why acupuncture works so well for resolving pain. For instance, let's say I had 10 patients with right knee pain that all come to my office in one day. Let's even specify that the pain is achy and below the knee cap towards the outside of the knee. Most likely those 10 patients would all receive different acupuncture treatments with some overlap in the acupuncture points used. Most importantly, barring any unknown structural issues (such as a torn meniscus), these 10 patients would see improvement with a course of acupuncture treatments.

Would those 10 patients heal at the same rate? Likely not, and that's completely normal. There are several things that impact the outcome of an acupuncture treatment. Stress, hydration, sleep quality, nutritional levels, how run down one is and age can all impact the results of acupuncture. Additionally, sometimes pain needs to be fully expressed by the body before it begins to improve, which is completely normal. Also, sometimes there's an X factor, something a patient neglected to share because they didn't consider that it might be related to their pain (for example, maybe one of those patients with right knee pain sits at their desk with their foot tucked away under their chair or maybe another forgot to mention the botched ankle surgery they had over 15 years ago). 

The next time you or your loved one develops pain, consider acupuncture as a treatment strategy for resolving the pain.

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