Scientists believe that acupuncture works by stimulating the body’s nervous system. When a needle is stimulated it stimulates the nerve nearby sending an electrical signal to the central nervous system which responds by releasing the body’s own natural painkillers of serotonin and dopamine. Therefore acupuncture is being increasingly seen as a viable alternative to long term painkiller use for management of pain conditions.
Increasingly research is proving that acupuncture is having a positive effect on pain in conditions such as lower back pain, migraine and dental pain. In fact in 2011 NICE (the panel which recommends and licenses medicine for use in the NHS) recommended offering patients acupuncture for lower back pain instead of long term use of painkillers.
Depending on the condition we might needle in areas away from the pain as we may want to stimulate the nerve specifically rather than over stimulating the area in pain. This is particularly true in cases where the area concerned is very inflamed. We also might use electro acupuncture or moxabustion on top of standard needle techniques. Electro acupuncture is used when we want to give extra stimulate to the nerves in chronic pain conditions and moxabustion is used when pain is caused from an old injury where you need to bring blood to an injury to stimulate healing.
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