Chronic pain is an increasingly common ailment or condition and most often patients are suffering from lower back pain, general joint or arthritis pain or neck pain. It’s estimated that 26% of Americans suffer from chronic pain, compared to 7% that have diabetes, 6% with heart disease and less than 2% diagnosed with cancer. For those living with chronic pain, neck pain is the third most common cause, according to a survey conducted by the National Institute of Health Statistics.
There are many causes for neck pain. The Mayo Clinic has some great online resources and information about what can lead to neck pain, including muscle strains, worn joints, nerve compression, injuries and diseases.
Physicians and researchers have also been conducting studies to test the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating chronic neck pain. The results have been compelling. A 2001 study showed that acupuncture was effective in relieving neck pain and improving range of motion. In a 2004 study, the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating chronic neck pain was evaluated in 153 patients. Nearly 70% of those patients had a successful outcome from acupuncture, reporting an improvement in pain of at least 50%.
So, while having chronic neck pain can be…well, a pain in the neck, acupuncture can make a significant difference. A licensed acupuncturist or practitioner of TCM can help develop a plan that is customized for you and eases that ache.
While some of us marvel at all the new flowers and trees in bloom, others suffer from hay fever—an allergic reaction to pollen and mold that flourishes with the arrival of spring, summer, and fall. Itchy eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, and other hay-fever symptoms may have you running to the drugstore for relief. But hay fever natural remedies and herbs can also offer some help.
Based on traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is one of the oldest healing practices, but it’s still relatively new to Western medicine. By inserting the tip of very thin needles into specific points on the body, acupuncture aims to restore the body’s flow of energy, thought to affect a variety of health problems, including how the immune system responds to allergies.
Recent studies show some promise on hay fever with acupuncture. For example, a small study compared adult patients who received weekly acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine with patients who unknowingly had fake acupuncture. It found that the real acupuncture and Chinese-herb patients noticed that the severity of their hay fever was significantly less pronounced and that their quality of life was significantly improved. And in another small study of children who were treated twice a week with real vs. sham acupuncture for seasonal allergy symptoms, the children who received the real treatment had fewer symptoms.
Turkish researchers say women who got acupuncture showed more relief.
By Karen Kaplan
Women who suffer from hot flashes and other uncomfortable symptoms of menopause may be able to find relief through acupuncture, according to a new study.
The idea of having to lie still for 20 minutes with needles sticking out of you may not appeal to everyone. On the other hand, hormone replacement therapy — often employed to make menopause more bearable — has some problems of its own, including an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and breast cancer.
So Turkish researchers recruited 53 postmenopausal women and assigned 27 of them to a five-week course of acupuncture (twice a week for 20 minutes at a time) and 26 of them got sham treatments that they thought were real. Women in the treatment group had needles inserted at 10 acupuncture points (bilaterally at ST36, LI4, KI3 and LR3, and also at EX-HN3 and CV3); women in the placebo group were treated with blunted needles that didn’t penetrate the skin.
At the end of the study period, the women who got acupuncture showed more relief from their symptoms compared to their counterparts who got the fake treatment. Their hot flashes were less severe (there was no change for women who got the sham treatment). Both groups had improvements in their psychological symptoms (as measured by the Menopause Rating Scale), though the benefit was much greater for women who got acupuncture. In addition, estrogen levels were significantly higher for the women in the treatment group compared to the controls.
Had there been more than 10 sessions, the benefits of acupuncture might have been even greater, the researchers said. The results were published in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine.
Sam Robinson* is a healthy 60 years old male. He has gone through many physical traumas in his life such as multiple broken bones and different work related injuries but he is otherwise healthy. He presented to our clinic because of his brother’s referral. At initial visit, he reported that his left shoulder pain is an insidious onset and was worsening over the last 2 weeks. He did not recall any trauma and injury to the left shoulder. Sam explained that although he has been through many injuries and traumas, this pain was nothing like them. It was the WORSE pain he has ever felt. The shoulder pain was dull and occasionally sharp. He was getting about one hour of sleep every night due to his shoulder pain. During physical exam, it was found that he has decreased range of motion with the arm secondary to pain.
Acupuncture was performed and pain subsided tremendously. He reported pain to be 1-2/10 after the first treatment. We also talked about naturopathic treatments that can be conducted at home to help speed up healing. Sam was advised to taking omega-3s to help decrease inflammation of the shoulder. We also spoke about dietary changes such as avoid nightshades (potatoes, eggplants, tomatoes) which can potentially aggravate his symptoms.
Sam was asked to return for the second treatment the same week but was not able to make it until one week after the first treatment. He reported that he has been following the naturopathic treatment protocols and that the pain relieved for 4 days and is now started slowing coming back. The second treatment was preform and again he noticed pain decreased to about 1/10. He range of motion noticeably improved after the treatment.
After a series of six treatments, Sam is pain-free. He is now receiving acupuncture once every month for general health maintenance and wellness.
*name changed for confidentially purposes.