VICUS.COM (21 Aug. 2000) -- Are
you in pain? There is a good chance the answer is yes, as more than 50
million Americans suffer from chronic pain (including more than 20% of
Americans over age 60), and nearly 25 million more experience acute
pain each year due to injuries or surgery.
Headache and lower back pain are the most
common types of pain in the United States. What's more, only
an estimated one in four of those with pain receive proper treatment,
according to the American Pain Foundation.
Never ignore pain
pain is persistent, don't let anyone convince you that your pain is
trivial. Pain is the body's way of letting the brain know there is
something wrong. Ignoring pain is like going through a red traffic
light. There is trouble ahead if you ignore the signal.
step in managing pain is to identify the cause or the source of the
pain. If the pain is persistent, visit a comprehensive pain management
center for an evaluation. Most pain syndromes can be managed
effectively at a good pain center, where they understand pain and how
to manage it using an integrative approach to treatment.
For many people, acupuncture contributes
to pain relief.
What should I expect
from acupuncture as a treatment for pain?
Most of the 15 million Americans who use
acupuncture use it to achieve analgesia, or pain relief. And, since
pain is the main complaint among people with arthritis, acupuncture
has found a role in the management of a wide variety of arthritic
conditions, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis,
fibromyalgia, gout and Raynaud's phenomenon.
does it work?
Acupuncture appears to stimulate the release of
endorphins and enkephalins, the body's natural painkillers. In fact,
acupuncture seems to be able to influence the production and
distribution of many neurotransmitters (substances that send nerve
impulses to the brain) and neuromodulators (substances produced by
nerves that influence the action of the neurotransmitters). All of
this alters the perception of pain.
A comprehensive list of conditions in which
acupuncture is considered one method of alternative treatment (based
on available information) is presented in the table.
Evidence for acupuncture's effectiveness in these conditions varies
from good (morning sickness) to sketchy (TMJ pain) to poor (certain
The list below is based on recommendations from
an expert panel that reviewed alternative therapies for more than 80
conditions. The panel's recommendations are not meant to suggest that
acupuncture should be used in place of traditional medical treatment,
or that it will be equally effective from one condition to another
(Pelletier, 2000). Rather, acupuncture should be viewed as
complementary to traditional medicine, as well as other alternative
had it half right
It makes sense to follow Henny Youngman's
advice. If it hurts when you do "this," then don't do it;
but if your pain persists, take action.
Russo Jr., PharmD, is senior vice president of
medical communications at Vicus.com. He is a pharmacist and medical
writer with more than 20 years of experience in medical education.