acheAcute and chronic pain can be simply debilitating to live with. People who suffer from chronic syndromes or diseases like fibromyalgia, arthritis, migraines, backaches, muscle and joint pains, sports injuries and sprains and more can face life-altering struggles if pain goes untreated. That’s why it’s important to consider a variety of options when trying to find solutions to pain management problems. Aside from over the counter medications, ointments and prescription pain medications, there are alternative therapies like acupuncture which can dramatically alter the negative effects of pain. Here is a closer look at how acupuncture can help manage pain symptoms.

How it works

Acupuncture is performed when an acupuncturist inserts extremely fine, sterile, disposable needles into a patient’s skin at important points throughout the body–called ‘acupoints’. The needles can then stimulate  neurotransmitter signals to the brain which can affect how the body processes pain signals. For example, this process may release endorphins which are considered the body’s natural painkillers. It also affects the portion of the brain that controls serotonin which is a chemical involved in mood. Acupuncture also helps in improving the blood circulation and the lymphatic flow in the body to improve healing.

Types of acupuncture:

There are a number of different types of acupuncture that can be used. All of them can be extremely effective if practiced by a licensed and board certified acupuncturist. Here are some examples of different types:

  • Local Needling-Local needling involves targeting the area of pain by inserting needles in the specific area of pain itself and the surrounding area, which helps by bringing local blood circulation to the area. This is a highly effective therapy that can treat muscle spasms and tension that is commonly caused by nerve issues, muscle and ligament strains, disc problems and arthritis.
  • Distal Needling-This produces instantaneous results for any kind of pain. The arms and legs are used opposite to the side of pain, by placing needles in the different channels or meridians that are affected. This procedure causes the blood circulation to improve in the area of pain. Most patients only require a few sessions depending on how acute or chronic their condition is.  
  • Cupping-This is a process by which the TCM practitioner uses suction cups to create suction and heat around certain acupuncture points. Cupping causes myofascial release to improve the blood circulation and ease the stiffness in the area. It can be done wet, dry or with needles and is thought to relax the deep tissues of the body. It is particularly effective for joint and muscle pains as well as lower back pain.
  • Moxibustion-This is the stimulation of acupoints by burning an herb called “Moxa” near the acupuncture points in the body. It can be done by burning a moxa stick with herbs, or can also be done by electrical moxa. Not only is moxibustion great for treating pain, but it is also used to treat colds and flus.

What to expect:  

The thought of acupuncture can be intimidating, but it can be a remarkable and holistic way to help ease your pain symptoms. Finding a professional, licensed, certified TCM practitioner and acupuncturist is just one key. They will take time to get your entire health history and you should spend time talking to them about your diet, level of activity and physical challenges. Expect to participate in weekly sessions until your symptoms start to subside and then visits might become slightly less frequent.

Other Methods For Pain Management:

In addition to recommending weekly acupuncture sessions, your practitioner may recommend dietary and activity changes, herbs, supplements or other treatments to add to your pain management regimen. Some other methods for pain management may include heat therapy, Tui Na, a type of therapeutic massage that uses pinching and pulling movements, or herbs and herbal therapies.


Acupuncture can be a highly effective way to not only manage chronic pain but can also have side benefits like lowering stress levels and boosting your mood. It can also be a welcome alternative to medications that can have unwanted side effects. Throughout the process, make sure to maintain your relationship with your regular doctor and work to find a trusted, professional acupuncturist. Ask plenty of questions and share helpful information about the status of your health and chronic pain issues.

To learn more about how Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture can help you manage your symptoms, call 832.282.3306 or contact us to schedule your appointment today.