Acupuncture for Pain Management

Acupuncture for Pain Management

Acupuncture is widely known for its effectiveness in the treatment of pain.  Research has shown that acupuncture is effective for many chronic health problems including musculoskeletal pain, low back pain, arthritis, migraines, headaches, and more.  Acupuncture works by causing the body to make and release its own natural pain-relieving substances.

A treatment takes approximately 60 minutes.  A common treatment plan for a single complaint would typically involve one treatment a week.  The number of treatments will depend on the condition being treated, how long you have had it and how severe it is.  In general, it is common to receive six to eight treatments, although based on the intensity, it may require twelve or more.  Follow up treatments may be needed after the initial course of treatment.

Acupuncture points are situated in all areas of the body.  Sometimes the points are not in the painful area.  The acupuncturist will tell you the general place of the treatment and whether you need to remove any clothing.  A gown, towel or sheet will be provided if needed.  Then, you relax on a cushioned table for the treatment, which involves:

  • Needle insertion: The needles are disposable and very thin, so insertion usually causes little discomfort. There may be a sharp sensation initially but it should fade quickly. People often don’t feel them inserted at all and are usually pleasantly surprised. You may feel a mild aching sensation when a needle is put in.
  • Needle manipulation. The acupuncturist may gently move or twirl the needles after placement or apply heat or mild electrical pulses to the needles (similar to a TENS unit).
  • Needle removal. In most cases, the needles remain in place for 20-30 minutes. There is usually no discomfort or bleeding when the needles are removed.

After acupuncture, some people feel relaxed and others feel energized. Many patients notice pain improvement immediately, while others may feel sore or have a temporary increase in pain. But not everyone responds to acupuncture. If your symptoms don’t begin to improve within 4-5 treatments, acupuncture may not be the right treatment.

Acupuncture treatments for pain management are a part of the Health Center at SSTAR and are available to patients who currently have a primary care provider onsite. Many health insurance plans now cover acupuncture, and we are able to bill a wide variety of plans for you. If you are interested in receiving acupuncture for your pain condition, talk to your PCP at SSTAR about whether acupuncture may be right for you. The PCP will send the referral for acupuncture, and the Licensed Acupuncturist will then reach out directly to answer any questions and schedule your initial appointment. Please make sure you come on time for your appointment and be prepared to stay for an hour.   Wear looser, comfortable clothing and make sure you have eaten something before the appointment. If you have any questions about acupuncture before you agree to the referral please feel free to call Mary Spencer, L.Ac. at 508-689-6195.


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