Chronic Pain: This is perhaps the most common and celebrated use of acupuncture on the human body, and as such, it has undergone the most research to test its validity. A recent study in the Archive of Internal Medicine has shown acupuncture to reduce pain up to 15% when used for a variety of different types of pain, but primarily focused on chronic back pain that may result from physical stress, poor sleeping habits, old injuries that never fully healed, tightness of muscles, pregnancy, or other sources. Knee pain is another common affliction that causes people to try acupuncture, and although the studies have occasionally contradicted one another, there is a decent amount of positive research results that make acupuncture a legitimate way to reduce knee pain from surgery, or from the pain associated with osteoarthritis and aging. A study published in the Oxford Journals showed that patients with chronic knee pain showed short and long term benefits over those patients who either received sham acupuncture or not acupuncture at all, so there must be something positive going on in this traditional style or pain management
Arthritis: Arthritis can be a debilitating disease that affects tens of millions of people around the world. Unfortunately, the benefits of modern medicine often fall short in fixing it over the long term, which means you must constantly (at least once daily) take powerful medicine to relieve the joint pain. Acupuncture offers a different option for reducing the painful and debilitating effects of arthritis. In the traditional belief system of acupuncture, there are 14 meridians, or energy channels, in the body that allow for the flow of qi, or natural body energy. These meridians often correspond to key nerve endings throughout the body that act as receptors for impulses from parts of the body like our knees, back, joints, temples, facial muscles, etc.
By inserting needles onto these meridians, our nerve endings communicate with our brains, and tell it that our muscles feel aching or “full”. This will cause the release of endorphins, which are typically released during stress for an energy boost and to block pain receptors. These endorphins, combined with the normal neurotransmitters that affect nerve impulses, may be able to stop the pain associated with arthritis that physically limits so many people. One very unusual form of acupuncture that is gaining ground is called BVA (Bee Venom Acupuncture) where bee venom is topically applied to an acupuncture point of penetration. Studies have shown positive results between this style of acupuncture and a reduction in pain associated with arthritis.
Migraines, Headaches, and Neck Pain: Another of the most popular applications of acupuncture in recent years has been for the relief of migraines and headaches, both in terms of pain relief and reduction in frequency. Although the exact mechanism to prevent these conditions via acupuncture around the face, neck, and scalp is not fully understood, positive results from research have in some ways justified, dozens of generations of this treatment method. Studies in the past have shown that patients treated with acupuncture had a higher chance of showing a marked decrease in pain rather than modern medical treatment. There is also a far lower chance of intense side effects from acupuncture than those frequently reported from strong migraine medicine.
Neck pain has actually been one of the most highly verified and proven conditions for which acupuncture is effective. In a 2011 review, there was nearly unanimous support and proof of acupuncture being a reliable and side-effect free way to relieve chronic neck pain, very often the pain that can lead to constantly tense muscles, soreness, and headaches.