Acupuncture as stress relief
The image of needles piercing through the skin in specific areas of the body may appear to be painful, however, acupuncture is an ancient form of pain relief treatment that improves the flow of energy throughout the body. Acupuncture originated in China thousands of years ago and is still being practiced until now.
The National Institutes of Health has sponsored several studies on the effects of acupuncture as a pain relief treatment for conditions such as arthritis and other ailments that produce chronic pain. While western scientists suspect that acupuncture may stimulate the release of chemicals to soothe pain or prompt the body’s natural healing abilities, the patient’s faith or belief in acupuncture is a big factor in the procedure’s success.
According to Dr. Hayes Wilson, chief rheumatologist at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta and national medical adviser to the Arthritis Foundation, says that acupuncture can work for anybody. However, he said that, “…it’s going to work for the people who believe in it.” Many pain relief treatments are effective because of the patient’s belief in them. People who don’t believe that they’re going to get better are less likely to get through.
Know the risks involved
Since the procedure involves risks inherent in needle use, however, there are some conditions where acupuncture is not recommended, such as those with bleeding disorders as well as people who are taking blood-thinning medications. There is also a high risk of spreading infectious disease, accidental piercing of organs, minor bleeding and broken or forgotten needles.
Why does it work?
According to Dennis Turk, professor of anesthesiology and pain research at the University of Washington School of Medicine, people make sense out of noxious sensations and determine how bothersome they really are with the help of the brain. Several factors can affect how people perceive sensations, what they decide to do about them, and how they interact with respect to their environment.
One psychological factor that can intensify pain perception is stress. Muscles tend to become tense and may affect tissues that are already tender. Emotionally, the pressure may amplify pain perception. People who are distressed may interpret situations to be more difficult and may lead them to avoid certain types of activities because they are afraid that it will make their pain become worse.
It’s all about redirection
A change in the source of stress can help alleviate the pressure. In the case of a frequent nagging from your spouse, try to find a way to sit down and discuss the problem with open communication. If changing the source of tension is not possible, consider wholesome and positive distraction such as watching a movie, listening to music, or spending time with friends. Pleasurable activities can shift the focus away from the pain temporarily.
Relaxation is another pain relief treatment. Meditation, yoga, deep breathing techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, massage, Tai Chi, and visualization have been proven to be effective pain relief treatment.
Joining support groups or getting individual counseling also help in coping with stress or ailment. However, while there is enough evidence to prove that people who join support groups experience dramatic improvements in their physical and emotional well-being, nevertheless, people who are not open in discussing about their problems may not benefit from this type of stress-management strategy. Different techniques apply for different people.