Despite an abundance of medicines and painkillers on the market, the advancement of medical examinations and treatments, pain is still the most common complaint that brings patients to visit their doctor.
Whatever pain is the primary or secondary cause to see the doctor, it still has an incredible impact on lifestyle and quality of life, especially for those who suffer from chronic pain due to cancer, rheumatologic and inflammatory diseases, diabetes, coronary artery disease, and many others.
The good news is that complementary medicine in general, Chinese medicine and Acupuncture in particular, have much to offer in the field of pain management.
Even if pain is not the main reason for going to see a doctor, in most cases it will be the secondary complaint which will accompany the problem for which we actually came for. We have all experienced some degree of pain at some point in our life, be it physical pain or be it an emotional one. In one way or another we have all felt the sensation of paint – that horrible pain when the big toe hits the corner of the table; we were all toddlers that fell and ‘opened’ our chin; that teenage love that ‘broke our hearts’ I can only presume we all went through. All these phenomena occur and pass with time, or a short resting period.
Unfortunately, for many people the phenomena of pain is not just a stage to go through or a brief and passing period. For many of us pain is part of daily life, part of the routine, part of that sensation that accompanies us from the moment we wake up to start the day. Often the pain overpowers our tiredness and is stronger than our pleasures, until that point where nothing more is left for the person suffering from it but the pain itself. Pain is also one of the major reasons for taking medication. Despite the modern world we live in, the technological advances, the abundant options for medications and pain killers, more often than not none of these are actually helpful.
Read the British National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guideline [NG193], which recommend Acupuncture as an effective option in managing chronic pain.
Pain is the body’s way of telling us that something in us is not functioning properly. For example, pain is one of the four signs of inflammation. The inflammatory process is an essential survival reaction of the body by which the brain signals to us that there is a problem. Pain is in fact a tool, an alarm used by the body, telling us:” Hey! Something is wrong here!”. Yet, in most chronic cases of pain, it is not anymore the body’s survival mechanism at work pointing at a problem. In such cases the pain is just there, accompanying the one suffering from it with no actual reason most of the time.
Chinese medicine perceives the process of pain in a very similar manner to its parallel system, conventional medicine. According to Chinese medicine pain is a sign of inadequate flow of the different bodily substances – Qi, Blood, Body Fluids – which causes stagnation. With the passage of time, this stagnation begins to have an expression in the body. As a result, our consciousness senses and perceives this stagnation as pain.
The bodily substances, and especially Qi and Blood, flow in the channel system which has as one of its functions the nourishment of the whole body. This system creates a diverse web which connects the internal environment of the body to its external environment. Inside this diversified web takes place a a form of communication between the different internal organs of the body. Also occurring in this web system are physiological processes – healthy functional ones as well as pathological ones. The pathological processes, what we would call diseases, have pain as one of their possible manifestations.
It is interesting to note that acupuncture treatment became known and spread out in the world during the 70’s as a result of a fast and highly effective treatment which was performed on an American journalist who was at that time residing in China.
That journalist was so surprised by how quickly the pain disappeared after his Appendix removal surgery, by means of a completely natural treatment method without the use of any medications and devoid of any side effects. That article, which appeared on the main page of The New York Times Journal remarks as one of the key-points of westerners interests in Chinese medicine.
History was made and the ‘gates’ of the great Chinese well has being opened for ‘outsiders’ (Foreigners in Chinese 外 [wài] outer, 國 [guō] country, 人 [rén] person)
Chinese medicine in general, and acupuncture in particular, have much to offer in the field of pain management and treatment and including the following disorders:
- Headache and migraine
- Lower back pain
- Upper back neck pain
- Herniated disc along the spine with or without sciatica
- Shoulder pain and frozen shoulder
- Elbow pain and tennis elbow
- Knee pain and osteoarthritis
- Pains associated with the reproductive system, such as menstrual cramps-dysmenorrhea or endometriosis.
- Pains associated with the digestive system such as Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and stomach pain.