Medical authorities are turning toward acupuncture for pain relief and management. The idea is to quell the degree with which opioid prescriptions are written, and help those suffering from pain. The hope is that this holistic approach to pain will help dampen the opioid crisis.
As recently as January 2013, the Veterans Affairs conducted an Evidence Map of Acupuncture. The report’s summary stated the results from existing reviews of reviews about the effectiveness of acupuncture were inconclusive. For several years however, the military and Veterans Affairs have offered acupuncture for pain. Some insurance companies cover it, and now a small, but growing number of Medicaid programs in states like Ohio, hit hard by opioid overdoses have started providing it for low-income patients.
Many doctors are skeptical about the effectiveness of acupuncture, but some are willing to let their patients try it. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, acupuncture is not just a system for inserting needles into specific areas in the body to alleviate pain. Acupuncture is a complete medical protocol that focuses on correcting energy imbalance in the body. It has been used for anxiety, depression, digestive issues and chronic degenerative diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. It can also be helpful in treating neurological problems like migraines or Parkinson’s disease. Acupuncture is used in rehabilitation strategies for individuals who had a stroke. Dr. Weil’s list of benefits and uses continues. There’s help for respiratory conditions, many gynecologic disorders and infertility. Acupuncture has proven beneficial for reducing fatigue and addictions, and for promoting overall well-being.
The practice began in China more than 2,500 years ago. Nature Neuroscience published research in the May 30, 2010 online edition that demonstrated the effects of acupuncture include influencing the activity of adenosine, an amino acid that becomes active in the skin after an injury to ease pain. This may explain in part why pain relief is often experienced as one of the benefits of acupuncture.
“There is evidence that acupuncture influences the production of and distribution of a great many neurotransmitters and neuromodulators, and that this in turn alters the perception of pain.”
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