Acupuncture Versus Medication for Pain Management

Pain is one of the most common reasons people see a doctor. According to a study, chronic pain affects around 50 million Americans. Pain can be triggered by a chronic condition, illness, disorder, or injuries sustained in an accident.

Socio-economic Impact of Pain

Pain can affect a person’s mobility, their ability to perform activities of daily living, and their quality of life. People grappling with chronic pain often experience rapid mood swings, feel unusually tired, and face difficulty falling asleep.

Chronic pain is often associated with increased absence and decreased performance. It is estimated that pain costs the country more than $630 billion annually in missed productivity.

Types of Pain

Some different types of pain include chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and nociceptive pain.

  • Chronic pain continues for a prolonged period of time
  • Neuropathic pain is characterized by a shooting, burning, or stabbing sensation.
  • Nociceptive pain feels like a sharp or throbbing pain caused by external tissue damage.

Medication For Pain Management

Many people use over-the-counter medicines and prescription drugs to manage pain. The type of medication prescribed primarily depends on the intensity of pain and accompanying symptoms.

People who experience mild pain occasionally can use over-the-counter drugs for pain relief. For people who experience episodes of sharp pain frequently, physicians usually prescribe strong painkillers, prescription NSAIDs, opiate painkillers, muscle relaxants, and steroid injections.

Acupuncture For Pain Relief

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that is based on the idea that all health conditions are caused by a blockage or disturbance in the flow of energy in the body. It involves piercing paper-thin needles through the skin at strategic points on the body to heal energy blocks and restore the body’s natural healing mechanism.

Acupuncture is slowly but surely gaining traction in the West. In San Francisco, many people use acupuncture for pain as a standalone therapy or as an adjunct to traditional treatment for pain management.

Acupuncture relieves pain by relaxing the muscles and stimulates the nervous system to secrete feel-good hormones including serotonin and endorphins. It reduces inflammation, improves blood circulation, stimulates the release of fibroblasts that help maintain tissue health, and relaxes the nervous system.

Pain Medication Versus Acupuncture for Pain Relief

The major drawback of pain medications is that many OTC drugs and prescription medicines are addictive. They can also have unwelcome side effects such as drowsiness, nausea, irritability, skin rashes, and bowel disturbances.

Also, most pain medications mask the symptoms of pain, instead of targeting its root cause. Unlike pain medication, acupuncture does not have any major side effects. When performed by an experienced professional, it is 100% safe and can reduce dependence on pain medicines.

In a 2016 study, 12 acupuncture sessions were administered on 156 individuals who were on medications for chronic pain. After receiving the treatment, 32% of patients on opioids reported a decrease in use and 57% of individuals using analgesic medications reported a reduction in use. 72% of study participants reported improvement in work capacity. The Anchor Acupuncture & Wellness team consists of experienced acupuncturists. We use a wide range of TCM techniques to target the root cause of pain. To learn more, call (415) 855-3112. 

Amanda Moler is a licensed acupuncturist and certified fertility acupuncturist (FABORM), serving San Francisco, CA.  Her educational background includes receiving a bachelor’s degree in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution from Antioch College in 2001 and in 2010, her master’s degree from American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In 2008, she also attended Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in Chicago, IL for education on acupuncture and oriental medicine. Asa Fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine, she has gained recognition for treating complex women fertility cases, providing guidance on painful side-effects of drugs, hormones, and maintaining the overall well-being of women. Follow Anchor Acupuncture and Amanda Moler on Facebook , Instagram, LinkedIn.