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Updated: Jul 25, 2018

Are you in pain? How do you manage it? Got to keep living, right, but, pain is no fun, nor is it your friend. 

Let's delve a little deeper...


Acute pain is the body's response to an injury or specific disease, usually associated with  musculoskeletal spasms or activation of the sympathetic nervous system and is self-limiting (resolves spontaneously with or without specific treatment). Your body is telling you something is wrong and a message is sent to your brain via certain pathways to rally the troops and start the healing process. Our body is clever like that.

Chronic pain is a different beast. It outlasts the normal healing processes, serves no physiological or biologic purpose, and is considered to be a state of disease. Yes, dis-ease. 

"One in five Australian adults suffers from chronic pain. As well as posing large costs for the healthcare system, the human cost on individuals and families is also significant. However, there are positive steps you can take to manage chronic pain and improve your quality of life." Dr Christine Bennett, Chair, Medical Advisory Panel, Bupa Australia

Two very different conditions, requiring two very different approaches to treatment - both of which should include acupuncture.


While the treatment goal for both acute and chronic pain is the same - either get rid of it completely, or at least make it tolerable for the sufferer, there are only 2 options available under our dominant health care model - aka Western medicine (WM):

  1. no drugsacupuncture, meditation, cognitive behaviour therapy, music and aromatherapy

  2. drugs - paracetamol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS), antidepressants + opioids 

Now, try a quick online search using these words:

"pain management strategies"

If your page looks the same as mine when I do this, the first thing you will see is an advertisement for "the world's #1 OTC (over the counter) analgesic. 

So what? I hear you ask... 

Here's what... raise your hand if you reach for the paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin when your pain is giving you the #%&*@?

For the most common forms of pain such as back pain and knee pain due to osteoarthritis THEY DON'T WORK! 


Unless you have been hiding in a box, and let's face it, if you're living with pain, you may well be on bad days, you will have heard the term ' opioid crisis.'

It's not just some catchy scare-mongering term created by conspiracy theorists in the US, it's real and it's affecting Australians. Your Mum, your Dad, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles. Your kids. 

Side effects from commonly prescribed and used medications such as tramadol, codeine, oxycodone and morphine include:

constipation; stomach pain; dizziness; confusion; drowsiness; vomiting; nausea; decreased heart rate; headaches; bleeding and bruising; painful urination; fever and convulsions.


Now here's some good news... you can manage your pain without the use of drugs with acupuncture.

How is this possible?

Acupuncture works by regulating the central nervous system. Needles placed in specific locations stimulate the release of endogenous opioids - the body's natural painkillers that relieve pain and enhance the healing process.


For this suffering from chronic pain, research shows acupuncture is an effective treatment optionand the pain-relieving effects of a course of acupuncture last for up to a year after the treatment course is completed! 


Pain messes with your head also, and it's one of the saddest things I see in clinic when working with patients with chronic pain. You suffer, your family and loved ones suffer too. Research shows acupuncture reduces not only your pain, but the co-morbid depression as well

Got migraines? Acupuncture is  more effective than botulinum and valproate for migraines with fewer side effects.

Kids in pain? Acupuncture for children in pain acupuncture is safe and effective

Due for a new joint? Acupuncture is a great adjunct for pain associated with hip and knee replacements

What about fibromyalgia? Drugs really don't do much here, but guess what?? Acupuncture does!

DISCLAIMER: If you are in pain, your first stop should always be your GP. The information provided above is not medical advice, and should not be taken as such. If you are taking medications prescribed by your GP, any changes to your pain medication must be done with the guidance and support of your GP. Be smart. Ask them about acupuncture and show them the references provided in the links above. 

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