But the most common reason why people seek out acupuncture, according to Jamie Bacharach, LAc, acupuncturist and head of practice at Acupuncture Jerusalem? Pain.
“The most common health condition which people turn to acupuncture treatment for is recurring pain," she says. "Most commonly felt in the back, neck, or shoulders, recurring pain in these areas is something that can be debilitating and limiting for years until properly addressed. Headaches and migraines also fit in this category as they represent sources of pain which traditional medicine commonly fails to cure."
Acupuncture can be particularly helpful for helping with chronic or recurring pain, Bacharach says, in part because of the holistic nature of the practice. “Acupuncturists are trained to identify shortcomings in lifestyle which may contribute to recurring pain, such as improper gait, posture, or sleeping habits, whereas a traditional doctor may only look at one half of the equation,” she says. “By redirecting qi, or energy within the body, acupuncture needles can strengthen various bodily weaknesses when employed properly in order to reduce stress and correct various causes of pain-related ailments, in addition to eliminating the pain itself."
For example, she says while a traditional doctor might diagnose and treat a slipped disk, "an acupuncturist will identify the cause of the slipped disk in the first place and strengthen the body to prevent against such occurrences in the future." This can help not only address the immediate issue but also help with long-term pain management.
Curious to see what acupuncture is like IRL? Here's what happened when our video producer tried it:
Research absolutely supports the effectiveness of acupuncture for pain. A 2018 meta-analysis found that acupuncture can legitimately treat chronic pain, and a 2017 study found that it can help with pain relief immediately. It's generally considered to be a good option for people suffering from migraines, lower back pain, and neck pain.
So what does it look like to seek out acupuncture for pain? “First things first, I would conduct a full review of the patient's medical history and lifestyle," says Bacharach. "Asking important questions which relate to the source of the pain—such as working conditions, diet and nutrition, home lifestyle, sleeping habits, etc.—will uncover the potential source or sources of the pain,” she says.
Then, the acupuncturist would prescribe a treatment plan to heal and strengthen the area of pain, as well as some lifestyle direction to prevent the problem from recurring in the future and influencing other areas. This treatment plan likely would include some targeted acupuncture sessions, where needles would be placed in strategic pressure points on a person's body. “Acupuncturists may also prescribe Chinese herbal remedies in order to promote healing, depending on the specific case,” Bacharach adds.
Overall, it’s based on the individual, where there’s a given procedure per person based on the issue, the cause, and other lifestyle factors. Your acupuncturist will help you find the right method for you.
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