Acupuncture for Pain Management

Most of us have suffered physical pain from injury or other causes and know the suffering and disruption this creates. The pain may be chronic or short-lived. It may stem from injury, systemic dysfunction like poor digestion and food sensitivities, or disease.

Common chronic conditions include low back pain, neck pain, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia. This kind of pain can negatively impact our daily lives, mood, sleep, and functioning. There are limits to what modern Western medicine can offer for solutions, including addictive opioids, Cortisone injections, surgery, or endless ingestion of NSAIDs.

What is inflammation?

As it turns out, inflammation is a significant cause of pain. The body is trying to heal itself by sending inflammation-causing chemicals to a troubled area. Still, unfortunately a lot of debris and waste product starts piling up in the tissues, creating pressure and swelling.

The anti-inflammatory drugs we may take work temporarily, but they do so by suppressing the body’s immune response and inhibiting blood flow to an area. When the blood flow is limited, the necessary nutrients that aid in healing are reduced, and tissues can become weakened. Acupuncture sends anti-inflammatory chemicals to the area without restricting blood flow, or damaging tissues.

How can acupuncture help with pain management?

The good news is that acupuncture and lifestyle changes can have a very positive impact on us. In fact, acupuncture is becoming a popular treatment of choice. Acupuncturists these days are getting more and more referrals from M.D.s. They are fast becoming “believers” in this form of healing medicine, which has been used for thousands of years.

Even the scientific community is on board. There are many publications in medical journals reporting lots of good evidence to support its use in pain management. Our favorite research article on pain is here for all of you research nerds.

Science is proving that acupuncture can do the following regarding pain:

  • Alters the firing of painful nerve impulses and how the brain responds to them to lessen their impact.
  • Allows the brain to release endorphins and other natural pain chemicals into our body, so we feel good!
  • Reduces inflammation and acts as a “vacuum cleaner,” cleaning up inflammatory pain-causing chemicals built up in the body. The result is less pain and bringing the needed blood flow to painful areas, so the tissues can heal naturally.

Chinese medicine’s point of view on pain

As Chinese medicine practitioners, we seek to support all of the imbalance in the body and mind that may be contributing to painful conditions. From our perspective, pain is caused by several factors. Qi Stagnation and Qi Deficiency are a couple of common reasons for pain that we see.

Qi is the energy in your body, and it can quickly become stagnant. Stress is a huge culprit of Qi stagnation, and it easily causes pain to stagnate in your in your shoulders and neck. Have you ever had to tell your shoulders to relax when you are stressed?

Sometimes your body can become Qi deficient. This happens when your body is not digesting food correctly. The deficiency can create a byproduct called “dampness.” Dampness is just what it sounds like — an accumulation of byproducts in the body. It can show up as chronic congestion, water weight, eczema, fibroids, brain fog, and weight that is difficult to lose. It also lingers in joints, which causes pain. In fact, some people’s pain gets much worse in humid weather.

Lifestyle and dietary suggestions to reduce inflammation

Stress management – Studies show that chronic stress can increase and activate immune cells, thus leading to increased inflammation. Acupuncture is a natural and effective way to reduces stress and anxiety. Some other methods of stress reduction include moderate exercise, meditation, and yoga.

Anti-inflammatory diet – An anti-inflammatory diet is, simply put, a diet that is low in inflammatory foods and high in anti-inflammatory foods. Examples of inflammatory foods are processed foods (fast foods, most packaged foods, soft drinks, microwave meals), fried foods, dairy foods like ice cream, and processed sugar (baked goods, soft drinks).

Both turmeric and omega 3’s have been shown to decrease inflammation. Turmeric is a spice that is commonly used and widely available in grocery stores. Omega 3’s are in fatty fish slouch as salmon, sardines, and herring. Plant-based sources of omega 3s include five oil, raw nuts, and flaxseed.

Eating plenty of vegetables will allow the fiber to clean out your digestive tract.


In a nutshell, acupuncture is a great healing agent for pain. It increases blood flow to heal tissues, sends natural painkillers into the body, and cleans up the inflamed area so healing can happen! It releases the stagnant pain-causing energy in your body and gives you more energy to heal yourself.

Book now and feel the results for yourself!

What Merriam Park Acupuncture clients are saying

“I came back after being gone for almost six months. I missed Merriam Park Acupuncture’s nurturing ways and healing presence. She helped me with so much today. I arrived with an aching neck and back. I had pain for about one week. The treatment helped me so much. I could sleep good and woke up refreshed.”

“I presented with a self diagnosed facial pain due to trigeminal neuralgia. I am 65, a family filled with nurses, and research (Thank Google!) indicated relief from acupuncture was more likely than relief through my primary physician. Research proved correct for me. Two sessions relieved my symptoms. I could drink coffee again! I plan to continue to use Merriam Park Acupuncture in my health care plan. Efficacy is established, and the cost compared to my Medicare co-pays are reasonable.”

“I was in a great deal of pain when I first got there. I have been treated very well and very nurturing. I have been to other places for acupuncture, but, in going to Merriam Park, this is the first place I felt welcomed by them. I recommend Merriam Park to any person who is considering utilizing their services as it works, if you want it to work.”

“I have suffered with migraines and have not found relief until coming here. I have very few headache days and this has improved my life immeasurably. They are very thorough and always asks about any changes, improvements, shifts in health status with every appointment. I see them for other issues as well and all are moving in a positive direction, but the biggest change has been my headaches. Their office is very quiet, and very welcoming. I would hands down recommend Merriam Park Acupuncture.”

Merriam Park Acupuncture offers acupuncture, cupping, Gua Sha and herbal medicine services in the Minneapolis and Saint Paul MN metropolitan area. 

Published: July 29, 2020

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