There are several treatment and relief options out there for those suffering with chronic pain. Here in the West, the common treatment methods are painkillers (drugs) and physical therapy. While these are effective ways of treating bodily pain, they aren’t the only ones.
What is Acupuncture?
It’s likely you’ve heard of acupuncture before, maybe on television or depicted in a movie. But what is it, exactly? Where did it come from? And what is it used for?
You might have guessed by now that acupuncture deals with treating pain and discomfort in one’s body. Acupuncture originated in China about 3,000 years ago, it’s estimated. It is a technique of Traditional Chinese Medicine that primarily attempts to relieve pain by ridding the body of whatever is blocking or unbalancing its “chi,” or, “energy flow.” Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into certain areas of one’s body (acupuncture points) depending on where the pain is located, and leaving the needles there for about 15 to 30 minutes. The placement of these needles is traditionally designed to rebalance the flow of energy, which travels through the 20 pathways (meridians). It is believed that the human body contains over 2,000 points that intersect with these meridians. When the flow of energy is restored, pain is relieved.
Is Acupuncture Effective?
Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years and is still practiced today, not only in the East but also the West. According to recent statistics from the National Health Interview Survey, more than 14 million Americans have tried acupuncture. Additionally, over 3,000 physicians in the U.S. have integrated acupuncture into their practice. While the scientific basis behind acupuncture’s effectiveness is still uncertain, many who have undergone acupuncture therapy have reported positive results. It is reported from a review of nearly 30 studies that acupuncture on average relieved pain by 50% in patients. The World Health Organization also endorses acupuncture for over two dozen conditions (mostly to do with pain).
Physical Comfort and Spiritual Awareness
An appealing aspect of acupuncture beyond its utility for relieving bodily pain is that it’s linked to Traditional Chinese Medicine and Chinese philosophy, wherein one’s spiritual energy is connected to one’s physical being. These concepts have been gradually diffused from the East into the West, and now more and more people are becoming interested in concepts like chi and spiritual awareness. Other examples of this cultural shift can be seen in the increased popularity of yoga and zen meditation.