How Acupuncture Treat Pain

Management of pain with acupuncture is an old traditional treatment method in China used for thousands of years. Though Acupuncture is very effective in pain treatment, explanation of its mechanism mainly is based on the Channel theory of Chinese Medicine. It is believed that pain is the result of obstruction of the energy flowing channel. The obstruction can be reopened by the stimulation of needles.

There are two main proposed mechanisms from modern science to account for the analgesic action of acupuncture.

Gate control theory

Gate control theory of pain was developed by Ronald Melzack and Patrick Wall in 1962 and in 1965. The theory proposed that pain perception is not simply a direct result of activating pain fibers, but modulated by interplay between excitation and inhibition of these pain pathways. According to the theory, the gating of pain is controlled by the inhibitory action on the pain pathways. By reviewing the physiology, we know that dull and brief stimulation are transmitted through C- fiber with a slow velocity. Sharp and prolonged stimulation are transmitted through A-fiber with a faster velocity. Pain is a dull and prolonged stimulate and needling is a sharp and brief stimulate. Since the velocity of transmission of the acupuncture needling is faster than the pain impulse, and the intensity of the acupuncture stimulus is stronger than the pain impulse, pain can be inhibited at the spinal cord level and not to be recognized in the higher level by the brain.

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 Neurohormonal theory

Modern researches also demonstrated that acupuncture can stimulate mid brain to secrete Endophines, an endogenic opioids works as a nature pain killer, to alleviate the pain. That is why after acupuncture treatment patient usually not only experienced less pain but also has a sense of well-being. Furthermore, acupuncture is a natural way of treatment, no medication and no surgery are involved that there will be no drug abuse or residual organic damage will followed acupuncture treatments.