How Acupuncture Can Work for Chronic Pain
I've been thinking about chronic pain a lot lately. How many people are in it, how western medicine treats it, and how receiving regular acupuncture treatments can affect positive change. I love this idea of neuroplasticity, how organisms such as humans can adapt to all kinds of internal and external environmental changes, how dynamic we really are, and how acupuncture can increase neuroplasticity by subtly shifting over and over again the actual pathways our nervous system takes, which affects how our brains perceive pain. All pain is really experienced in the brain through signals our bodies send it. Pain is positive in some ways, especially initially when an injury occurs (to help us immobilize or realize the need to treat a specific area), or even in the case of something like a stress headache (are we doing too much? Do we need to spend less time in front of a screen or take some time just to breath more everyday?). In either case pain is a catalyst for change, but only if we are listening.
In the case of chronic pain of any nature, our bodies wear deep grooves in the same pathways. Ow, this hurts, ow this hurts, all day and sometimes all night long. We've all experienced the relief of pain and how different we feel without it. The moment the pain diminishes, our body has just made a choice to take a new pathway. Taking new pathways is hard, and usually we need a lot of focus or help to do it. Even if taking a new pathway feels better, the body tends to go back to its old groove even if it hurts, because it's easier. It seems like a crazy choice, but it isn't too far off from the emotional and psychological ways we all at some point in our lives continually choose the painful path. It could be that relationship that isn't working, or that third drink that makes us feel terrible in the morning, or sitting on the couch instead of going for a walk when we know we need to move.
Acupuncture can act as a catalyst to send your body the message that there is another way. Because of our natural tendencies, people who experience chronic pain need regular acupuncture treatments, at least for a while, in order to feel real relief. A lovely side effect of feeling better is that we tend to want to do the things that keep us healthy, and in this way we can create a positive feedback loop that can lead to a better quality of life.