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Acupuncture in the treatment of pain

Posted on 03/07/2014 by Healthwise

Acupuncture is well known as a pain reliever. Within the wide scope of acupuncture’s functions, it is pain relief that is most widely understood by the West. Science explains the effect of acupuncture through its ability to disrupt the nervous system’s pain signalling to the brain. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) this effect is explained quite differently.  There is an old Chinese phrase, “tong zi bu tong, zi tong, bu tong”. It means that wherever there is pain, there is stagnation and wherever there is stagnation there is pain.

In TCM, we refer to several substances in the body that can become stagnated and therefore cause pain:

  • Qi or energy (tightness or aches)
  • Blood (bruises, fixed lumps and sharp pains sometimes caused by trauma)
  • Fluid (soft nodules or swelling often aggravated by damp weather)
  • Cold (fixed pain on a site that feels cold to touch or is aggravated by cold weather)
  • Food (digestive pain from a large meal or rich food)

Pain from stagnation is usually better with movement and worse for being still:

  • Qi stagnation benefits from exercise and stretching
  • Blood stagnation benefits from circulation
  • Fluid stagnation benefits from eliminating the excess fluid
  • Cold stagnation benefits from the application of heat removing the feeling of cold
  • Food stagnation benefits from belching, vomiting or a bowel movement

For example, back tightness that is worse in the morning after sleeping but resolves after a warm shower and a stretch is a Qi stagnation pain.

Stagnation, particularly when represented as chronic pain, can also have an emotional or mental root. Remember that stagnation is ‘stuckness’. So your pain could relate to a situation or emotion that you feel stuck in. It could be frustration at your work, financial situation or relationship. Think about where you feel this emotion in your body. Stagnation will benefit from an open mind, a fresh look and approaching a problem from a different angle.

In developing an effective treatment, we need to identify the type of pain you have.

  • When did it start?
  • Where is it?
  • What does it feel like? 
  • What makes it better or worse?

We determine the type of stagnation you have, what bothers you most about it and how it all started. We choose acupuncture points, techniques and herbs that will best resolve the specific stagnation that is at the centre of the pain that you feel.

 “Most illnesses do not, as is generally thought, come out like a bolt out of the blue. The ground is prepared for years, through faulty diets, intemperance, overwork, and moral conflicts, slowly eroding the subject’s vitality.”  Paul Tourier

Throughout our clinical experience we have treated all types of acute and chronic pain, most with great success allowing clients to return to a pain free and happy life.  We do this by removing the stagnation by increasing the flow of Qi throughout the body with acupuncture and herbs while also addressing the causative factors including the individuals constitution, lifestyle, diet, stress, exercise, to prevent recurrence.

Some of the pain conditions we have successfully treated with Acupuncture and Naturopathic treatments are:


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