Getting Started with Acupuncture

Question: My pain specialist wants me to add acupuncture to my treatment regimen. I’ve made an appointment to see a provider, but I don’t under­stand, how does acupuncture help chronic pain? (I have neuropathy in my legs and feet.) Can you help me with a simple explanation that I can use when talking to my family and friends?

Answer: Acupuncture, originally known as a Chinese medicine, dates back more than 2,000 years. The tradition was passed down through generations of physician teachers and has evolved into widespread contemporary practice. As a standard and mainstream method for a host of conditions recognized by the National Institutes of Health, it has been integrated into western medicine and is frequently prescribed as an adjunct to pain management, cancer supportive care, and infertility.

Laura Bowman, M.D., is an acupuncture specialist practicing in Decatur, Georgia. She says that acupuncture treatment involves putting tiny solid needles in specific points of your body to treat various medical conditions and promote health. “Acupuncture points are physical locations at ‘communication bundles’ of nerves, blood vessels, and muscle planes,” she explains. “Acupuncture works by changing the specific communication pathway where the needle is inserted. Whatever the physical cause, the treatment can help relieve neuropathic pain.” For chronic pain, she recommends an initial series of weekly treatments for four to six weeks, then continued treatment at longer intervals as the problem comes under control. As part of a preventive health strategy, acupuncture treatments are recommended twice a year when the seasons change.

Our expert: Jackson Rainer is a board-certified clinical psychologist who practices with the Care and Counseling Center in Decatur, Georgia, helping people living with chronic illnesses. He consults with a variety of experts to answer a selection of readers’ questions in each issue of Pain-Free Living.

Have questions about living with and managing chronic pain? Email questions to [email protected]. Please put “PFL Q&A” in the subject line.

Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.

One thought on “Getting Started with Acupuncture

  1. Dear jp, in the oct/nov issue in pain free living question was sexual pain, I feel you missed the nail. The older women get , their estrogen in the vagina wanes then disappears. A woman may be using hormone therapy by a patch or pill or cream. ( by the way the patch is the safest way to go. Because it doesn’t filter out thru the liver. You can get a very low dose to customize it, like .005 dosage.) But this isn’t enough for her vagina. She need an estrogen cream made for this area. The walls will weaken, get thinner, not strong enough for the action its getting. Causing pain. She can bleed- pink. Not red and not clear. She will see this after sex on herself and husband. Vaginal cream will correct this. But is this the only answer? Maybe she has a pro-lapsed uterus or bladder. In which her husband striking it will be very painful. Usually she could tell, ( if she knew ) that when she wipes herself she can feel like something is different. Dropped down in the area. This is not normal. Requiring surgery usually a mesh- like the fabric they use for hernia surgeries. Hopefully you can give her this information and she can have enjoyable sex. She should enjoy this exercise as long as her husband is still viable. Lucky girl. I can understand this is out of your ream of medicine. I enjoy your answers thru the years, but not this one here. Its not your expertise. I hope I have enlightened you. Thanks for all the good answers you’ve delivered in the past and for the future.

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