More often than not, needles are associated with causing pain. When you are vaccinated, have your ears pierced or get a tattoo, you try to distract yourself from the metal pressing into your skin. You look away, close your eyes, bite your lip or dig your nail into another finger all in an effort to pretend that the needle does not hurt, but it does. Needles correspond with pain, and yet millions of Americans have voluntarily had them inserted into their bodies, hoping to alleviate that same pain. What were those people thinking?
They were thinking that if a procedure has lasted thousands of years, with growing popularity rather than diminishing, it must be worth trying. And, they were right. Acupuncture has been a mainstay in traditional Chinese medicine since its development. It’s based on the ideas of yin, yang and qi. The body is a balance between yin (passivity) and yang (activity). When the balance is disrupted, qi or vital energy is blocked from the pathways or meridians in your body, leading to different levels and types of pain. Acupuncture reopens the pathways by stimulating the points along your body that connect to them. It is often used in conjunction, with other treatments, for anything from hiccups to sinusitis to paralysis. However, recent studies show that the procedure may not need accompaniments. It may, on its own, work better than traditional Western medication.
Researchers in Germany divided 1,100 lower-back pain sufferers into three groups. Two of the groups received acupuncture, some real, some fake. The third group was treated with varying methods including injections, painkillers, massage and physical therapy. While only 27 percent of the final group reported improvement, more than 40 percent in both of the other two experienced reduced pain and disability improvement. The fact that some of the participants received sham acupuncture, where needles were not inserted as deeply or at specific acupuncture points, implies that some of the effect is mental. However, the case for acupuncture is still strong, and you can hardly argue with history. So, why not reverse your opinion on needles? Associate them with eliminating pain rather than inducing. You might very well be better off.
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