Acupuncture for Chronic Pain

by Dr Mark McAuliffe (Acupuncture)

“Acupuncture is one of the treatment modalities many pain sufferers seek or get in contact with whilst living with pain and seeing a variety of healthcare professionals in both publicly funded and private settings.  Reasons for getting in contact with an acupuncture therapist may include the quest for alternative formulations and treatment strategies for chronic pain, the desire to have temporary or even persistent relief from pain, being dissatisfied with what has already been tried or the lack of treatments that have not been tried before.”  NICE, 2021

NICE – National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Britain’s Medicare) have just released a guideline in 2021 saying that the best treatments for chronic pain for people over 16 are Acupuncture, Exercise Physiology and Psychology.  They also stated that opioids should not be used, but some antidepressants may be useful.  At present in Australia, people with pain are more than 3 times likely to be prescribed opioids than any other patients by western Doctors. Western medicine relies on steroid injections, pain killers and then surgery to help with chronic pain.

what is chronic pain?

  • Chronic pain is defined as lasting more than three-to-six months after an injury or illness, often resulting from surgery, cancer or conditions like arthritis or migraines. Chronic Pain is a daily struggle for one-in-five Australians aged over 45. The hidden epidemic is costing the Australian economy more than $140 billion each year, and the problem is only getting worse. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimates chronic pain cost taxpayers $139 billion in 2018.

Acupuncturists have known for centuries that acupuncture is great for pain management. Evidence-based medicine is now understanding the unique role Chinese Medicine can play in pain reduction.

In our Queensland clinics (Brisbane and Mackay) we treat over 100 people a week.  Pain management being prevalent in both clinics.  Each and every week we could be treating painful backs, shoulders, necks, knees, ankles, elbows + wrists, migraines, headaches, mental health issues, menstrual pain + fertility issues to name a few.

When the pain is acute it takes about 2 to 5 acupuncture treatments and when the pain is chronic it usually takes about 8 to 15 treatments to see results where the patient is happy again.

Often with chronic pain comes insomnia and mental health issues of anxiety, fear and/or depression.  Of course, acupuncture can help with these symptoms as well.

Reference https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng193/documents/evidence-review-7