Acute and Chronic Pain
Acupuncture has been found to be extremely effective at treating acute and chronic pain along with inflammation.
Over 50 million Americans suffer from Autoimmune disease.
When a person suffers from an autoimmune disease it means their own immune system is attacking the body and altering or destroying the tissues. Autoimmune diseases includes: Celiac disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Fibromyalgia, lupus, Crohn’s disease, pernicious anemia, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
Due to the complexity of treating autoimmune disorders, integrative medicine solutions including acupuncture and Chinese medicine have received much attention as successful therapies in their treatment. Acupuncture is specifically noted for its use in pain relief, regulating the immune system, managing symptoms and improving quality of life.
What Causes Autoimmune Disease?
Under normal conditions, an immune response cannot be triggered against the cells of one's own body. In certain cases, however, immune cells make a mistake and attack the very cells that they are meant to protect. This can lead to a variety of autoimmune diseases. They encompass a broad category of over 100 diseases in which the person's immune system attacks his or her own tissue.
The exact mechanisms causing these changes are not completely understood, but bacteria, viruses, toxins, and some drugs may play a role in triggering an autoimmune process in someone who already has a genetic (inherited) predisposition to develop such a disorder. It is theorized that the inflammation initiated by these agents, toxic or infectious, somehow provokes in the body a "sensitization" (autoimmune reaction) in the involved tissues.
As the disease develops vague symptoms start to appear, such as joint and muscle pain, general muscle weakness, possible rashes or low-grade fever, trouble concentrating, or weight loss. The following symptom may point toward something being wrong:
• numbness and tingling in hands and feet
• dry eyes
• hair loss
• shortness of breath
• heart palpitations
• repeated miscarriages
How Acupuncture Treats Autoimmune Disorders
According to Chinese Medicine, autoimmune disorders develop when patterns of disharmony in the body cause the immune system to act out of balance. Underlying patterns that lead to immune disorders vary from one person to another. Recognizing that each individual person’s constitution is unique and customizing treatments to address the root causes are what make Chinese medicine so effective. Imbalance can come from an excess or deficiency of yin and yang that disrupts the flow of qi, or vital energy, through the body.
The goal of acupuncture and herbal treatments is to bring the body back into balance, alleviate pain, and strengthen and regulate the immune system.
Acupuncture and herbal medicine also promote restful nights, which is essential for maintaining and restoring good health. Studies have shown that lack of sleep increases pro-inflammatory processes of the body that cause pain and inflammation, the major symptoms of autoimmune disorders.
Clinical research has shown that acupuncture causes physical responses in nerve cells, the pituitary gland, and parts of the brain. These responses can cause the body to release proteins, hormones, and brain chemicals that control a number of body functions. It is proposed that, by these actions, acupuncture affects blood pressure, body temperature, and the immune system.
Many factors play into an autoimmune disease
Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at the body as a whole, allowing the patient to get a more complete treatment, usually with better results. Since autoimmune diseases are thought to be a deficiency in people’s immune-system responses, TCM practitioners will work to restore and rejuvenate the factors that are vital for good immunity. These things include blood and the energetic life force known as qi (pronounced “chee”). There can also be underlying genetic factors involved in autoimmune diseases, so acupuncturists may also work on building up a patient’s essence or jing. Research has shown that acupuncture causes responses in nerve cells, as well as in parts of the brain. By utilizing acupuncture, those suffering from an autoimmune disease can, over time, reprogram their brains and cells to perform as intended.
Chronic Pain and Autoimmune Disorders
Ongoing chronic pain can be debilitating and disheartening, and finding relief takes time and energy that is taxing to one's already compromised sense of wellbeing.
Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts or recurs for more than three months. It has been reported that chronic pain affects more than 20% of people worldwide and is not limited to age, gender, economic status or location. Once believed to only exist in the elderly population, it is now recognized as a rising trend in younger adults in their twenties, and adults in their prime.
Autoimmune disorders are often the cause of chronic pain, posing daily physical and emotional challenges, sometimes to the point of disability.
Managing your Autoimmune Disease
In addition to acupuncture, your treatment program to manage your autoimmune disorder may involve a combination of therapies including stress-reducing exercises, moderate physical activity, herbal medicine, nutritional support, and bodywork. Conventional medicine can diagnose 100 different autoimmune conditions. Unfortunately, the treatments available to people with these disorders is not as plentiful through conventional medicine. It typically involves the use of pharmaceuticals that can have side effects that are as bad, if not worse, than the symptoms of the disease itself. And even worse, many people are told they have no options.
What the research says:
In a study looking at how acupuncture can help lymphatic flow and autoimmune disease looked at Rheumatoid arthritis specifically. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), affecting about 1% of the population, is one of the most studied autoimmune conditions, with regards to the role of lymphatics in the context of disease. This study showed that acupuncture was effective at promoting lymphatic flow and function in several autoimmune disease states.