Acupuncture pain relief for lower back pain, osteoarthritis of the knee, neck pain, jaw pain, sciatica and shoulder pain
“Acupuncture is an effective, safe and cost-effective treatment for numerous types of acute and chronic pain. Acupuncture should be recommended as a first line treatment for pain before opiates are prescribed, and may reduce opioid use”
Acupuncture pain relief enjoys moderate to strong evidence to support its use in the treatment of a variety of acute and chronic painful conditions.
What is the history behind acupuncture pain relief therapy
Acupuncture pain relief therapy is taught to student acupuncturists because acupuncture has had a long association with pain relief.
The precise physiological mechanism behind acupuncture pain relief remains unclear, although study to understand this mechanism has been ongoing for over sixty years. [i]
Your acupuncturist will ask you questions around the onset of your pain, the nature of your pain (how it feels to you) and whether there are associated signs and symptoms like joint stiffness or poor mobility.
All this information is then analysed and a Chinese medicine diagnosis is constructed. Acupuncture is administered to address the signs and symptoms associated with the Chinese medicine diagnosis.
No two Chinese medicine diagnoses are the same and therefore the acupuncture you receive is unique to you and your Chinese medicine diagnosis.
What is the source of evidence to support acupuncture pain relief therapy?
Two recent and comprehensive research documents exist which overwhelmingly support acupuncture pain relief therapy as a first line treatment for pain. These studies are:
The Acupuncture Evidence Project: Australian researchers conducted a review of the highest evidence possible to support the use of acupuncture pain relief. This evidence included systematic reviews and meta analyses which are the highest form of available evidence. [ii]
Acupuncture’s Role in Solving the Opioid Epidemic: a joint project which established the evidence base for acupuncture pain relief and its cost-effectiveness as a first line treatment to opioid prescription. [iii]
What evidence is there to support acupuncture pain relief?
There is strong evidence to support acupuncture pain relief in people presenting with:
- Chronic lower back pain – this is pain you have had for a long time. It may be constant pain, dull or sharp and it may even increase and decrease in severity.
- Pain after surgery
- Osteoarthritis of the knee which often includes pain and stiffness.
There is moderate evidence to support acupuncture pain relief in people presenting with:
- Neck pain
- Lateral elbow pain (otherwise known as tennis elbow)
- TMJ (temporomandibular joint) pain (associated with stress, clenching the jaw and grinding of teeth)
- Plantar heel pain (perhaps associated with plantar fasciitis)
- Sciatic pain which involves shooting pain in the buttock and even sometimes down the back or side of the leg
- Acute lower back pain which often includes a recent injury and pain which has started within the last couple of weeks
- Early stage shoulder impingement (where exercises are being undertaken) which might be associated with frozen shoulder
Is acupuncture pain relief useful for other painful conditions?
There is a long tradition of using acupuncture to treat painful conditions. These conditions may include pain associated with headache .
While the evidence supports the use of acupuncture pain relief for the conditions listed above, just because a condition is not listed there doesn’t mean acupuncture might not be useful in helping to provide pain relief.
All that means is that there hasn’t been enough research to officially say, “yep it helps”. Before deciding whether acupuncture pain relief is for you, feel free to give Peter a call to chat about your individual circumstances and his experience or knowledge of your problem
[i] Russell D, Hopper Koppelman M. Acupuncture for Pain. Evidence Based Acupuncture. 2017. [accessed 21 February ,2018 from https://www.evidencebasedacupuncture.org/access-pdf-downloads/]
[ii] MacDonald J, Janz S. The Acupuncture Evidence Project: A Comparative Literature Review (revised evition). Brisbane: Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd; 2017. [accessed 21 February, 2018 from https://www.acupuncture.org.au/resources/publications/the-acupuncture-evidence-project-a-comparative-literature-review-2017/]
[iii] The Joint Acupuncture Opioid Task Force. Opcit. 2017
[iv] Russell D, Hopper Koppelman M. op cit. 2017