One in five adults suffer from chronic pain in Australia (Blyth et al., 2001) and the cost of treatment and loss of productivity is estimated to be more than $34 billion per year (MBF Foundation, 2007). Chronic pain is our third highest health care expense after cardiovascular disease and muscular skeletal injuries.
We also treat muscular skeletal injuries.
While chronic pain is the main cause of early retirement, more than 20% of children also live with chronic pain.
Chronic pain can be caused by surgery, accident, injury, degenerative disease, or idiopathic or ‘unknown factors.’ It affects all age groups. However, one in 3 people over 65 will experience chronic pain. Pain is considered chronic after it has lasted for more than 3 months.
Our team has extensive experience working with people suffering chronic pain from many different causes, and research suggests that acupuncture provides marked clinical improvements while being a cost effective solution (Wit et al., 2006). This meta-analysis of the results of the acupuncture treatment on chronic lower back pain showed very promising outcomes both economically and clinically.
There have been many other studies conducted using acupuncture to relieve chronic pain in both children and adults, and all of these studies have shown promising results compared to current pain relieving medications (Kundu et al., 2007; Pomeraz, B. 2007).
One such study over an 8 week period found significant improvement in pain levels using acupuncture compared to current medical intervention for chronic facial pain, chronic low back pain, chronic shoulder pain, and chronic arthritis of the knee (Elder et al., 2012). Further, the pain reduction was found to be sustained after acupuncture intervention ceased.
Research into the anti-pain action of Chinese herbal medicine has also been extensive, identifying key ingredients found in herbs that lead to substantial pain relief in acute, inflammatory, neuropathic, and chronic pain conditions.
For example, a key pain-relieving ingredient found in the root of the flowering plant Corydalis, is a compound known as dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB), a member of the poppy family. According to researchers, "our study reports the discovery of a new natural product that can relieve pain", says Olivier Civelli of the University of California, Irvine. "This analgesic acts in animal assays against the three types of pain that afflict humans, including acute, inflammatory, and neuropathic or chronic pain" (Zhang et al., 2014).
The Rozelle Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Centre (RACM) team diligently keeps abreast of the latest research in chronic pain management in Chinese medicine as well as neuro-plasticity. Neuro-plasticity research suggests that once pain becomes chronic it is self-perpetuating because the area experiencing pain, represented in the brain, becomes lit up and active. Pain becomes the new ‘normal’ condition, making it harder to treat. Changing this nerve signalling pattern is a great challenge and Chinese medicine may offer a complementary supportive role by reversing this process, because nerve pathways are positively influenced during treatment.
Our team offers a variety of treatment options for adults, as well as teenagers, children, and babies. These include:
- Acupuncture, using fine needle treatment on specific acupuncture points on the body (see Acupuncture),
- Laser acupuncture, a gentle light therapy on traditional acupuncture points as a non-needle alternative,
- Acupuncture over larger areas of the body to promote healing of wounds and injuries and reduce inflammation and pain,
- Gentle massage of acupuncture points to stimulate response with take home press studs to continue treatment at home,
- Chinese medicine herbal remedies (see Chinese Herbal Medicine),
- Medical magnet therapy to relieve pain and promote healing,
- Vitamin and mineral supplements.
In summary, our practitioners care a lot about the suffering people experience with chronic pain and aim to improve quality of life and opportunity to study, work, or enjoy retirement. For treatment we may use a combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, laser acupuncture, and medical magnet therapy.
Gentle acupuncture treatment may be used to ease pain and inflammation as well as to encourage injury repair needed as a result of accident, trauma, degenerative change, or surgery. Our herbal remedies may also be used to complement pain management physiotherapy programs.
- Blyth et al., (2001) “Chronic pain in Australia: a prevalence study” Pain, 89: 127-1342.
- Elder C1, Ritenbaugh C, Aickin M, Hammerschlag R, Dworkin S, Mist S, Harris RE. Reductions in pain medication use associated with traditional Chinese medicine for chronic pain. Perm J. 2012 Summer; 16(3):18-23.
- Kundu Anjana, Berma Brian. Acupuncture for pediatric pain and symptom management. Paediatric clinics of North America. Dec 2007, Vol. 54, No. 6: 885-899.
- MBF Foundation (2007) The high price of pain: the economic impact of persistent pain in Australia. Pain management research institute, University of Sydney.
- Pomeraz, Bruce. Scientific research into Acupuncture for the relief of pain. The Journal of alternative and complementary Medicine. August 2007, 2(1). 53-60.dol: 10-1089/acm. 1996.2L53.
- Wit et al., (2006) Pragmatic randomised trial evaluating the clinical and economic effectiveness acupuncture for chronic lower back pain. Am J Epidemiol 2006; 164:487-496.
- Zhong y, Wang C, Wang L, Parks GS, Zhang X, Guo Z, Ke Y, Li KW. Anovel analgesic isolated from a traditional Chinese medicine. Curr Biol. 2014 Jan 20; 24(2).117-23. dol: 10, 1016/ j.cub.2013.11.039.Epub 2014 Jan 2.