The Journal of Pain recently published a meta-analysis finding that acupuncture is “highly effective” for chronic pain. The tides are turning towards mainstream medicine embracing integrative therapies…

According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, more than 1.5 billion people world-wide have chronic pain, and it is the most common cause of long-term disability in the United States, affecting about 100 million Americans. However, the primary treatments, per Western Medicine standards, have been mainly limited to pharmaceuticals (morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, and the like), which have unfortunately resulted in what we now refer to as the devastating “opioid epidemic.”

Some of the most common types of chronic pain include:

  • post-surgical pain
  • post-trauma pain
  • low back pain
  • cancer pain
  • arthritis pain
  • headache
  • neurogenic pain (caused by nerve damage)
  • psychogenic pain (pain that isn’t caused by disease, injury, or nerve damage)

Chronic pain is often the result of a complex set of events, which is why drug-centered treatment has, at best, short-lived success . Often, chronic pain is initiated after an initial injury, but this is not always the case. Truthfully, the exact pathophysiology of chronic pain is still not well understood. Established risk factors include:

  • female gender
  • obesity
  • older age
  • lower socioeconomic status
  • geographical/cultural background
  • surgery
  • history of abuse
  • injury

Given the limited success with the drug-centered treatment approach combined with the significant long-term risk of addiction, it is high time to open our minds to more a multi-layered assessment approach and TRUE recovery regimen. Acupuncture is quickly gaining ground as a highly effective treatment, and the side effect profile is….negligible.