Chronic pain is defined as a persistent annoyance that can last for more than 12 hours at a time, and for periods of several months. Back and neck pain, shoulder pain, osteoarthritis, and chronic headaches are four such examples of the more common types of chronic pain Americans commonly suffer from. More and more often, patients are turning to alternative medicine for relief from the pain.
A few years ago, JAMA Internal Medicine published a study regarding the use and effectiveness of acupuncture therapy on patients with the four above-mentioned chronic pain conditions. Those who received the alternative medicine treatment, as opposed to sham or “no-acupuncture” methods (another approach to help control the condition), experienced less pain. The results showed significant differences between the needle therapy and the other methods, pointing to acupuncture as being more than just a placebo.
Overall, the study concluded that acupuncture therapy is not only an effective treatment to help deal with chronic pain but also a “reasonable referral option” for Americans seeking a more natural, alternative medical approach to their condition. At the time the article was published, the review suggested that an estimated 3 million adults in the U.S. were receiving this form of treatment every year (mostly for chronic pain) — a number that had dramatically increased from past years and will likely continue to rise in the future.