Acupuncture may sound like an exotic—maybe even improbable—treatment for chronic pain. But this age-old Chinese medical practice has been increasingly accepted in this country as an alternative treatment for pain management Primarily used for pain management, this ancient Chinese form of alternative medicine — which involves thin needles being inserted into the skin — has gained support from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Medicaid as a viable treatment in recent years.
While the scientific evidence of acupuncture’s benefits is still widely debated, research from key Western studies suggests it can be used to manage certain pain conditions — especially back and neck pain, osteoarthritis pain, and headaches. It’s also been used to treat a range of other conditions. And as its popularity has grown, more people in the United States have begun turning to acupuncture when conventional medicine falls short.
acupuncture changes cells in connective tissue around the pressure points in lasting ways that lead to less pain. There is also evidence that stimulating the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain stem to the colon, may lower inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation is closely tied to chronic pain.
Evidence of its anti-inflammatory effects is emerging. Meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials provide evidence for acupuncture's effectiveness in treating back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis. Applications of electroacupuncture using transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation can provide good pain relief via home treatment and make management of cancer pain using acupuncture knowledge realistic.
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