As acupuncture has gained popularity and as we, as acupuncturists, have increasingly found ourselves working in conjunction with mainstream medicine, it has become more and more necessary to turn to research studies to demonstrate the mechanisms and efficacy of acupuncture as a therapy. This is both a very exciting and a very challenging prospect, as there are many aspects to the practice of acupuncture that make studying it very different from studying the effects of pharmaceuticals, so the research has to be incredibly well-designed in order to evaluate the outcomes realistically. There are a lot of very smart people who are devoting a lot of effort to this complicated endeavor, and this video from the Acupuncture Now Foundation has done an excellent job of presenting the basic elements of acupuncture research. Crucial to understand is this: there is an increasingly large body of incredibly favorable research into the efficacy and mechanisms of acupuncture, and we are learning more all of the time.
A recent study (linked here for those who like to read studies) showed that when acupuncture is paired with the Alexander Technique for the treatment of chronic, persistent neck pain, the improvement sufferers experienced was better than what is usually achieved with regular neck pain care. As an acupuncturist, I always find it incredibly exciting when a study emerges that demonstrates what I see day-to-day in my practice in a more rigorous way, but ultimately, I did not find the results of this study to be at all surprising. This is a perfect example of what is perhaps one of my favorite aspects of acupuncture: that acupuncture can compliment nearly any other form of treatment to help improve the overall outcomes and achieve a more multifaceted approach to care. In modern practice, it is a very routine experience to see patients who are already seeking other forms of care for some particular issue, but perhaps have lingering aspects of their health challenge that are still giving them some trouble. The human body is a brilliantly complex structure and it can sometimes be difficult for some health issues to achieve a complete resolution through a single therapeutic approach alone. If your health issues are being managed with pharmaceutical intervention, physical therapy, chiropractic, massage, or nearly any other intervention, but you are still experiencing symptoms or pain, acupuncture can be the missing piece to the puzzle to help you find the relief you’re looking for. Because acupuncture works by simply leveraging the body’s already existing healing capacity in your favor in a more focused manner, it can help nearly any therapeutic approach to work better, and, in some cases be incredibly useful for minimizing the side-effects of other forms of treatment. Whether you are looking for additional relief, or looking to accelerate the progress of your existing healthcare regimen so that you can get back to your life, acupuncture can be a great addition to the care you’re already pursuing. This is a topic I hope to revisit in much more detail in several future blog posts, as it will be undoubtedly making its way into the news again and is one of the most important features of how acupuncture can fit into a modern context. Stay tuned! Please click here to visit my main page where you can find information about scheduling an appointment.