Updated: 9 April 2020, Marc Woodard
At one point in my life I sought alternate treatment for severe chronic back pain. I only did so after all other conventional treatments had failed.
It’s true physical therapy, diet, ideal body weight, prescriptions and exercise do help with weight bearing, pre-post surgery pain relief and the healing process.
But when you have substantial structural and neurological damage in/around bone and soft tissue which includes tendons, ligaments and muscle, you’re most certain to experience varying levels of acute and chronic pain for long periods of time.
For those that go under the knife to correct and alleviate pain, risk of complications do occur. Under the best case surgical scenario, repair with significant pain relief is experienced – but not guaranteed.
Because of my unique pain story, I preferred to work around the pain centers throughout the body using alternative pain relief methods. Since there’s no guarantee surgeries could provide a pain free experience… “I ventured into acupuncture.”
At one point in my life I would have tried any type of pain relief modality opposed to surgery. Whether I believed it would work or not. And at that time acupuncture was something I didn’t have a lot of faith in “but I was running out of options and desperate to reduce pain spikes.”
My current thoughts on acupuncture – “Ultimately I became a believer.”I’m not exactly sure how it physiologically improves function and heals at a cellular level. BUT I do see how it can relieve pain through stimulation of muscle chemical and electrical transmitters in the body.
I also understand our bodies have this Chi energy force that travels throughout our neurological or meridian highways. Where electrical-chemical energy flow can become blocked through illness, disease and injury and creates inflammation and neurological pain. And when acupuncture needles are inserted at various points along these highways, energy flow that was once blocked can become unblocked. And when that happens pain is relieved.
In various cultures the energy flowing through our neurological highways is not only known as Chi. But can be seen or understood as life energy and cross-compared, or liken to Prana, life force, Spirit, subtle and vital energy, etc. If you want to know more about these things simply google those terms on the Internet.
For me acupuncture worked, “However at first, I was baffled on exactly how.”
I can only explain it in the following manner. “I think of my body with millions of electrical circuits where one has shorted somewhere, or was inflamed through illness or disease or injury and sending pain signals to the brain. Whereas the pain signal can be temporarily or permanently relieved through a by-pass, or neighboring circuit… in effect – pain signal to the brain can be removed or neutralized.” This does not mean your free of cellular disease or neurological damage.
“A relatable analogy would be similar to an electrical circuit that powers a lightbulb.” If you take electrical current to earth ground instead of sending it to the brain-bulb or switch-ON for pain – In essence the circuit is dead, “SWITCH-OFF” and pain gone.
Western medicine defines, relates and applies acupuncture treatment in the following manner.
“Approximately 2,000 different acupuncture points lie along the body’s meridians. The idea behind acupuncture is that stimulating these points with acupuncture needles or pressure relieves obstructions in the flow of energy, enabling the body to heal.”
“In the Western view, acupuncture likely works by stimulating the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) to release chemicals called neurotransmitters and hormones. These chemicals dull pain, boost the immune system and regulate various body functions” (Watson 2017).
These concepts and principles are easy to visualize through my mind’s eye. Since I have an electrical-mechanical background and physiological knowledge through undergraduate studies… my mind accepts both Eastern acupuncture and Western healing and pain relief modalities logic. Regardless of whether Eastern medicine can fully explain through empirical data the exact healing agents on brain and body function… I accept acupuncture’s healing principles and believe in it. “Belief is half the battle to curing what ails the mind, body and spirit.” At least I believe this like many others.
Many scientists consider acupuncture a pseudoscience because it cannot be proven through a controlled lab environment… why it works for some, not others and why it works at all. I can completely understand the difficulty of creating a blind study where trial subjects wouldn’t know whether a needle was sticking them for example; while another group in the study was actually stuck. Plus cause of pain origins and level of pain sensitivities – is often subjective and not substantiated through medical diagnosis.
I believe if you believe something is possible the psychosomatic (mind/body) meridian highway and healing connection can be made to greater degree. That is the portion of brain during meridian stimulation effectively releasing electrical-chemical healing agents to a target area to mitigate pain.
Understanding these connections and relationship allows those like myself (alternative medicine believer) to channel the acupuncture stimulant point that allows damaged cell tissue to turn off pain receptors by channeling through a different meridian highway connections – “essentially grounding the pain, someplace else that can’t be felt.”
I can tell you there are different techniques used by acupuncturists when getting stuck with various sized needles. …
Many years ago, I experienced two different styles of acupuncture. A hard and soft style. “Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is the most common form of acupuncture studied and practiced in the United States. Japanese style acupuncture takes a more subtle route than TCM. Fewer and thinner needles are used with less stimulation” (Acufinder.com 2017).
During the TCM acupuncture treatment, “the needles were inserted deep into my low back and caused discomfort and aggravation – multiple times.” They were inserted fast and hit damaged nerves frequently and was very painful process. After needle insertion an electrical pulsating current was sent through wire leads attached to the needles. This pulsating current went through the needles – then stimulated the damaged neurons under the skin. Eventually this treatment re-routes the pain signal from registering within the brain. Once the needles are inserted it’s all good and it is relaxing.
Regardless of the aggressive TCM needle insertion technique – although painful seemed to turn-off a lot of back pain registering in the brain for me. However after 10 sessions I called it quits. Although I considered TCM a success, it was during the tenth session a needle hit a sensitive nerve in the low back and caused me to jolt. This was followed by a back spasm and a bit of cussing, “Don’t judge… God that hurt bad.” I did finish the session… gritting my way through it and managed to refrain from further cussing.
Thereafter and understandably so, I had fear of going back for more TCM treatments. I didn’t request another referral from my HMO. Instead I sought out Japanese style acupuncture to help alleviate a little more pain, since I didn’t complete the recommended 18 sessions. Fortunately my HMO authorized another 12 acupuncture sessions using a local Japanese soft style acupuncturist service.
The Japanese acupuncture application is completely different then TCM and very tolerable. The needles are more delicately inserted and don’t penetrate deep into the skin. My personal experience… I didn’t feel any discomfort during these treatments over the next 12 months.
If you have a lot of nerve damage and areas of the body are pain-sensitive to touch – Japanese style acupuncture may work well to help relieve pain anywhere in the body.
The Japanese preparation and process works like this: Very light massage, relaxation with suction cup may be used. They are heated cups placed on skin surface and along meridian pathways. When cooling, cause a suction [or vacuum] – draws oxygenated blood to damaged tissue area to increase blood circulation to expedite healing process.
Thereafter inserted needles may be applied. This technique worked wonders to remove more back pain. Needles were not only inserted in the low back, but other parts of the body to help relieve radiating nerve pain.
To this day my total body pain is very manageable and allows me to live life to the fullest. I’ve not seen an acupuncturists for years.
I’ve read a few blogger sites on the benefits/to no benefits of using acupuncture. The feelings on this pain relief service is a mixed bag.
It’s considered by many who believe in Eastern medicine a natural science that can heal and alleviate pain and may/may not cure disease. To Western medicine practitioners, many professionals and lay persons at best believe it’s a pseudoscience that falls into categories more like magic and faith healing.
Instead of trying to convince you acupuncture may work for you, I think it is best to leave the following thoughts and insight. Like Pranic healing – modern science does not understand and has no way to prove how acupuncture and life Chi energy actually heals and alleviates pain for some and not others. Modern medicine scholars look to prove the brain-body self-healing connections and why it’s not 100% effective for some, but works 100% of the time for others.
I’d agree “maybe some lack the connective brain function or capacity to accept or believe an alternative healing method outside of Western medicine could help.” Therefore self-healing through meditation or acupuncture or Pranic healing, etc., won’t work for some – for lack of internal chi channeling ability, belief or faith… who knows for sure. All I know is it worked for me.
Unfortunately unless science can unequivocally prove something… it is open to public/patient/scholastic medical scrutiny. Maybe it could work for everyone if they simply believed it could.
But this should not limit people to reason “how” the impossible can become possible. Simply reflect on a few of man’s unbelievable achievements and cures… how they were first cast into disbelief throughout history… then the present believed the impossible – possible.
For example, it was impossible for man to fly, let alone sore through space and land on the moon. Or, until Penicillin as an effective antibiotic was discovered… many with serious disease through infection were doomed to die with no hope. During historical times scientific positions, IF based simply on belief – could not accept any medial application outside of that box… But today’s anti-aging and healing science appears to know no limit of life extension possibilities based in Eastern, Western, Faith healing, etc… why have these positions of alternative medicines changed before proven through science. Well if you believe organic bio-bots can be injected into the body to rearrange DNA and cure what ails you – although it sounds impossible – I assure you it’s not. Just because something can’t be proven at this time possible through empirical data, does not mean it’s not possible.
Start thinking what may be possible to cure what ails. If you need significant pain relief, I believe a combination of Western and Eastern medicine and treatment is your best bet. Especially if your stuck taking a boat load of prescription pills and want to improve your situation and lifestyle.
“For the self-healing and alternative medicine believer – Meditative and Spiritual untapped brain-body function has the healing energy and capacity necessary to cure what ails us.” [MirrorAthlete 2017]
I agree like many of you “science does not know everything about the connected brain-body self-healing capacity.”It has long been said people on earth only use 10% of their brain capacity. This too is controversial due to opposing views of natural selection. Since the brain tissue has metabolically evolved throughout time, to lose 90% of capacity would have catastrophic consequences on the human regulation of body function… What if brain capacity increased 1-2% up to, or over that10% without body function affliction. I believe this has already been accomplished by faith healers, spiritual mediators and proteges to name a few? “Begin thinking outside the Western influence box!” There’s no scientific proof using more brain capacity to increase IQ or self-heal is harmful to health.
In relationship to this line of reasoning – acupuncture and panic healing may open a 2% healing mind-body-spiritual connection and opportunity to increase brain capacity and improve bodily function to heal damaged cellular tissue and get well. Just because science can’t prove how brain capacity and body function coordinate above and beyond what natural selection scholars, doesn’t mean self-healing and alternative medicine doesn’t work.
Since most aren’t educated and trained in meditative and alternative medicine and therapeutic practices… if open to the wellness and healing possibilities – allow someone schooled in alternative pain relief modalities to help heal you if all else has failed.
If you have acute, chronic or severe pain regardless of what the cause, what have you got to lose? Give acupuncture a try? What doesn’t work for others may work for you? You may have the ability to unlock the Chi force hidden within part of your untapped brain capacity to make use of Eastern medicine like I did… which has provided significant pain relief and increased mobility function.
I believe one day science will prove through empirical trials how and why acupuncture works for some patients and not others. Then hopefully educate everyone on how to tap this self-healing power.
Like Einstein’s Theory of Relativity “Time was no longer uniform and absolute.” Physics could no longer be understood as space by itself, hence space and time was also dependent on velocity. Until this time Isaac Newton’s physics and astronomy stood as a 200-year-old theory of mechanics.
Acupuncture is thousands of years old. But has only been accepted in Western medicine and studied for decades. What has Western medicine yet to discover about the practice as applied to individual life force healing energy? Will it take 200 years or more to discover all of it’s secrets? Who knows.
If you want to try acupuncture and your primary care physician won’t refer you, or it’s not covered in your health insurance there are 3 things you can do.
During your private or employer annual health insurance selections – pick a provider or policy that covers acupuncture [most HMO policies offer it]. Or, if you have coverage for this service, but a physician won’t refer for whatever reason, request a new primary care physician. Or request of your primary care physician to be referred to a physiatrist. A physiatrist is a pain management medical [pain specialist]; and will likely honor your referred request to an acupuncturist if covered within your HMO insurance.
Craig, Gary. Acupuncture Meridians Pathways of Chi Energy. Healing with EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques. Website: http://www.healing-with-eft.com/acupuncture-meridians.html
Google answer site. Do We Use all of our Brain Power? http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/751682.html
Novella, Steven. Does Acupuncture Work or Not?Â Neurologica blog. Sep 25, 2007.http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/does-acupuncture-work-or-not/
Watson, Stephanie. Acupuncture Overview. HowStuffWorks. a division of InfoSpace Holdings LLC. 2017.
Woodard, Marc. What is Pranic Healing and Does it Work? Mirror Athlete’s Fitness Secrets! July 23, 2010. http://www.mirrorathlete.org/2017/05/10/what-is-pranic-healing-and-does-it-work/
Woodard, Marc. Why a Physiatrist Offers the Best Rehabilitative Course. Mirror Athlete’s Fitness Secrets! June 23, 2011. http://www.mirrorathlete.org/2011/06/23/why-a-physiatrist-offers-the-best-rehabilitative-course/
Woodamarc. Pain Depression Origins. HubPages. http://woodamarc.hubpages.com/hub/Pain-Depression-Origins
Physiotherapy Adelaide Site. How Does Acupuncture Work? Copyright 2011. http://www.howdoesacupuncturework.com/
Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET. 2017-20 Copyright, All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.org. Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.