Dr (TCM) Attilio D'Alberto
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How Does Acupuncture Work To Relieve Pain?

Acupuncture is a part of traditional Chinese medicine. It works by regulating qi pronounced chee. When qi doesn't move, it causes pain. It also aids in blood flow as when there is blood stasis, there is also pain.

Acupuncture is effective in pain management and can help to relieve all types of pain, including lower back pain, sciatic pain, knee pain, headaches, joint (arthritic) pain, neck pain, muscle pain, nerve pain, pregnancy pain, etc.

Research suggests that when specific points are stimulated with a fine needle, it elicits a healing response and regulates qi in that area, causing the nerve signals to move correctly and relieve pain.

Watch my animated video below, which explains how acupuncture is able to relieve pain.

How long does acupuncture relieve pain for?

Acupuncture is a dose like every form of treatment or medicine.

The chronic pain relief effects of acupuncture usually last around 3-4 days and then start to wear off. However, the pain won't return to its original level.

Having acupuncture treatment peels off layers of pain. Each session building upon the previous one.

It is worth continuing with acupuncture treatment until all the pain and tension in the body has gone. Not just when the pain is gone. Pain is like the tip of the iceberg showing above the water, the bulk of the problem is often hidden beneath the surface and still needs continuous treatment.

How quickly does acupuncture relieve pain?

Once you've had acupuncture treatment you should notice an instant reduction in your level of pain as it works on the nervous system. You should also notice less tension in your muscles and an improvement in your overall well-being.

In chronic conditions, there may be a worsening of symptoms the next day with a subsequent overall improvement the days afterwards. It depends on the problem acupuncture is treating

With subsequent acupuncture sessions, the level of pain relief will improve, usually to around 70-90%.

Can I stop taking painkillers when having acupuncture?

Once you start having acupuncture, you will notice that your pain is less.

As your pain is reduced, you may no longer need to take over the counter painkillers. This is fine as over the counter pain relief meds are self-medicating.

For people on prescription pain relief medication, you should always consult with your doctor first before reducing your medication.

How to maintain pain relief after having acupuncture treatment

To maintain reduced levels of pain, a person must make changes to their lifestyle and diet.

In acupuncture theory, pain is caused by stagnation. Stagnation can be caused by stress, being sedentary, or from foods and fluids eaten.

For example, stress causes frustration which leads to muscle tension and pain. Being sedentary (sitting down too much) increases stagnation in the body which causes pain. There's a great saying "Motion is lotion". We sit down far too much, in the car, train, bus, at home and at work.

Do not expose your body to the cold as cold causes stagnation and then pain. Don't drink coffee, which causes the gallbladder to contract, which causes tension in its meridian which spans along the whole body including the sciatic line.


Download my pain factsheet.