Why more people are turning to acupuncture instead of prescription pain medication?
While the United States is in the midst of an opioid epidemic, and the urge to offer patients an alternative to prescription pain medication is greater than ever, more and more people are using acupuncture as an alternative to treating pain. The ancient form of traditional Chinese medicine has left many with positive results and relieved symptoms while carrying none of the deadly, addictive ingredients found in prescription pain medication. As the number of opioid overdose-related deaths in the country rises, so does the number of people seeking another method for pain relief besides prescription drugs.
Acupuncture has been practiced since ancient times in Chinese culture, more than 2,000 years ago. Although it was known amongst some in the United States, it didn’t become widely recognized until the 1970’s and legal until the 1980’s. There is no evidence or articles currently published which state anyone has ever died from acupuncture, but plenty of evidence suggesting acupuncture has helped relieve pain symptoms for many conditions, among other benefits. On the contrary, since opioids became commonly prescribed for pain in the 1990’s, opioid overdose rates began to increase. Today, more than 115 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids every day, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Why do people start taking prescription pain medication?
Doctors may prescribe painkillers for a number of different reasons. For example, if someone has been in a car accident or recent trauma leaving them with severe pain. Acupuncture for car crashes has become a common alternative to pain medications. Others with traumatic experiences leaving them with chronic pain are also turning to acupuncture instead of prescription drugs.
According to a recent Associated Press article, the military and Veteran Affairs “began promoting a range of alternative approaches to pain treatment, including acupuncture,” about a decade ago. Now, “two-thirds of military hospitals and other treatment centers offer acupuncture, according to a recent study.” Some veterans stated that they turned to acupuncture because they didn’t like how pain medication made them feel, and didn’t want to risk becoming addicted. Other studies have shown that in addition to acupuncture for pain relief, it can also help reduce the symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
Another reason one may begin taking prescription pain medication besides an accident or recent trauma, is because of a sports injury. Sports acupuncture has become more and more common over the past years, because of evidence that it works in many cases. Most easily explained, acupuncture works well for sports injuries because the stimulation of the needle inserted at or near the site of injury “increases microcirculation in the area, thus increasing the blood to the tissues that are injured.” This may assist in the healing of the problem – sometimes noticeably faster, according to an article on the American College of Sports Medicine’s website.
Another benefit of sports acupuncture is that it is completely legal, and not banned by many competitions and sports organizations such as the U.S. Olympic Committee. There are also no known side effects of acupuncture. In addition to relieving pain due to sports injuries, endurance athletes use it as a drug free way to boost sports performance. Other benefits are that acupuncture reduces stress, increases circulation, decreases inflammation, and can be used as a preventative measure to correct imbalances in musculature and muscle firing patterns. If you are an athlete in the Albuquerque area, visit Endpoint Wellness today to learn if sports acupuncture may be right for you.
Another instance where acupuncture is a safer, healthier alternative to prescription pain medication is for chronic pain. According to a recent New York Times article, “Throwing powerful drugs at chronic pain problems may only add to the problem because ever higher doses are often needed to keep the pain at bay.” This contributes to the growing opioid epidemic and increasing overdose rates of patients taking prescription pain medication. Drug-free alternatives to pain management are now a top priority among many health institutions, such as the American College of Physicians and the National Institute of Health. New drug-free suggestions for treating chronic or recurring back pain recently issued by the American College of Physicians include exercise, rehabilitation, acupuncture, tai chi, yoga, progressive relaxation and cognitive behavioral therapy. These non-invasive, safe treatments have proved highly effective in relieving chronic pain.
Besides being a healthier, non-addictive and safer alternative to prescription drugs, acupuncture is 100% chemical free. With many pain medications, patients are unaware of the chemicals they are putting into their bodies with every dose. The chemicals in pain medication alter the chemicals in the brain in an artificial way to relieve pain. The relief from acupuncture comes from the body’s natural reaction to the insertion of acupuncture needles throughout the body’s meridians. The comfort you’ll get from knowing what you’re putting into your body and how it’s being affected with acupuncture versus not knowing with pain medication should be enough to steer clear of prescriptions and try the healthier alternative: acupuncture.