In the midst of the opioid crisis, acupuncture has been growing in popularity in the United States.
Primarily employed for pain management, this ancient Chinese form of alternative medicine — which involves thin needles being inserted into skin — has gained support from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Medicaid as a feasible treatment in recent years.
While the scientific proof acupuncture’s benefits remains widely debated, research from key Western studies suggests it can be utilized to control certain pain conditions — especially back and neck pain, osteoarthritis pain, and headaches.
It’s been used to take care of a variety of other conditions. As its popularity has grown, more individuals in the United States have begun turning to acupuncture when conventional medicine falls short.
Researchers remain trying to find out whether acupuncture can be a beneficial treatment for various health ailments. However, for people who may be seeking alternative alternatives for hard-to-treat conditions, listed here are four areas in which acupuncture may help.
Acupuncture for easing pain
Heidi Boyson had experienced chronic low-back pain for a decade when she tried acupuncture for initially in England.
She’d already tried chiropractors, physical therapy, and medication. “Nothing worked,” she told Healthline. “The acupuncturist put needles in my head, and I fell asleep, that has been great. When I woke up, I was a great deal more relaxed.”
After only one visit, Boyson says her pain became manageable.
Western research indicates that acupuncture can succeed in managing pain. Why it works remains unclear, though there are many theories.
The first written account of acupuncture, in “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine,” dates to 100 B.C. in China.
The idea behind the practice suggests the stimulation of specific spots prompts the human body release a a stream of energy, or “qi,” which travels through “meridians.”
The Western explanation: The needle stimulates a nerve, which sends a sign to the brain to release beta-endorphins.These chemicals work as your body’s own opioids, lowering pain thresholds.
Another theory proposes acupuncture changes cells in connective tissue across the pressure points in lasting techniques cause less pain.
There’s also evidence, based on a 2016 study, that stimulating the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain stem to the colon, may lower inflammation through the body. Inflammation is closely associated with chronic pain.
States trying to cut opioid prescriptions have already been tinkering with extending Medicaid coverage for acupuncture as another selection for pain treatment. Rhode Island, Oregon, and Ohio all have programs that extend coverage in part.
When Vermont commissioned a small pilot study on acupuncture for chronic pain in its Medicaid population, it figured 32 percent of people taking opioids for pain cut back. They certainly were eligible for approximately 12 treatments over two months.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has trained a lot more than 2,800 providers of “battlefield acupuncture,” a protocol that involves the ear to ease pain.