Acupuncture Safe and Effective For Treating Pain

San Francisco, CA (July 15, 2010) – August is National Pain Month. According to the National Pain Foundation, under-treated pain is one of the most important public health issues facing America today. With 1 in 3 Americans suffering from untreated pain each year, patients are looking to new and holistic ways of preventing and coping with this often debilitating condition. With an impressive safety record and low incidence of side effects, acupuncture and Chinese medicine are proving a popular and effective choice for many.

According to the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, acupuncture is useful as a primary therapy for both acute and chronic musculoskeletal pain problems, including muscle spasms, sprains, repetitive strain disorders (e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome), myofascial pain conditions (e.g., muscle tension headaches, soft tissue pain in the neck, regional shoulder pain), post-herpetic neuralgia, peripheral neuropathic pain, and headaches. The World Health Organization recommends acupuncture for disorders such as tennis elbow, sciatica, low back pain, headache, migraine, trigeminal neuralgia, peripheral neuropathy and more.

According to Western theories, acupuncture is effective in reducing pain due to its ability to increase the circulation of blood and lymphatic fluids and release endorphins, the body’s natural pain killing chemicals. New research conducted through Harvard Medical School and published in November 2008 issue of Behavioral Brain Research found significant evidence that endogenous opioids are central to the experience of pain and acupuncture analgesia.

Acupuncture analgesia (AA) is defined as acupuncture used to relieve pain and regulate the physiologic status of the body. It is one of the most widely researched topics in complementary and alternative medicine. Scientists applied a Positron emission tomography (PET) scan with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine brain signals and pain receptors during an acupuncture analgesia treatment. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) is a type of specialized MRI scan, which measures the hemodynamic response related to neural activity in the brain or spinal cord of humans or other animals. Positron emission tomography (PET) is a nuclear medicine imaging technique, which produces a three-dimensional image or map of functional processes in the body. PET scans are increasingly read alongside fMRI scans, to collect both anatomic and metabolic information. Using this integrative imaging approach during acupuncture point stimulation, scientists found functional magnetic resonance imaging signal changes in the orbito-frontal cortex, insula, and pons and diprenorphine; PET signal changes in the orbito-frontal cortex, medial prefrontal cortex, insula, thalamus, and anterior cingulated cortex. This indicates that there are predictable and reproducible changes in very specific areas of the brain when acupuncture needles are placed in appropriate sites around the body, thus reducing pain and releasing endorphins and opioids.

Acupuncture is a safe, natural and effective method in treating all types of pain without the unwanted side effects of over-the-counter and prescriptive drugs, such as gastric bleeding, ulcers, liver and kidney problems, nausea, vomiting, and drowsiness.

The Journal of the American Medical Association estimates that approximately 42 percent of all Americans are using complimentary therapies such as acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and spending more than $34 billion annually. The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) estimates that 3.1 million adults use acupuncture each year.

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About American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine
American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ACTCM) has provided affordable, quality health care to the public and trained professionals in acupuncture, massage and Chinese medicine since 1980. In addition to its graduate curriculum, ACTCM offers continuing education, public education, community outreach and clinical services in acupuncture and herbal medicine. ACTCM has been the recipient of many awards for its curriculum, faculty and clinic, and has been voted “Best of the Bay” by both the San Francisco Weekly and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. ACTCM is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and is a private, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.