Patients seeking relief from legitimate pain is often noted as the origin of the opioid crisis; in a 2013 study, 80% of heroin users reported using prescription pain killers before becoming addicted to heroin. As with any developing crisis that shows up on the new outlets, people wanted to know who or what was responsible for the opioid epidemic. There was plenty of blame to go around: the doctors were blamed; the manufacturers were blamed; even the patients who had become dependent on opioids were blamed. This led states in the U.S. to enact new laws limiting opioid use .
The result is that chronic pain patients have been left in a precarious situation with many patients cut off from their medications abruptly without an alternative care plan offered. Treating pain effectively without the use of narcotics is tricky for Western medical practitioners. While there are some invasive techniques that can possibly result in good outcomes, the chances of a bad outcome can be very high and patients do not want to take the risk. Medications such as steroids also have notable side effects and risks. This has left people suffering from pain few viable treatment options. Understandably, these pain sufferers are angry and demanding viable solutions from our healthcare system.
Luckily, a large number of studies reviewing the effectiveness of acupuncture have recently been published demonstrating the ability of acupuncture to manage chronic and acute pain   Furthermore, acupuncture has been proven an effective analgesic for post-operative pain, thus reducing the need for opioid medication and reducing the risk of opioid dependency developing.      he U.S. government National Institute for complimentary and Integrative Health website states: “Results from a number of studies suggest that acupuncture may help ease types of pain that are often chronic such as lower back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis and knee pain. It also may help reduce the frequency of tension headaches and prevent migraine headaches. Therefore, acupuncture appears to be a reasonable option for people with chronic pain to consider.”
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has many ways of delineating and alleviating pain syndromes; thus, TCM can provide more specific solutions for pain syndromes than simple pain relievers that block pain signals. In Chinese medicine, pain in the body cannot occur without the presence of Qi Stagnation and/or Blood Stagnation. Herbs and acupuncture are used to break up this stagnation and treat the underlying cause of pain rather than simply mask it as pain killers do. Because so many peer-reviewed studies have brought the benefits of acupuncture to light, Chinese medicine is now being recommended by MD’s and incorporated into hospitals.
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