Can Acupuncture Help Acupuncture For Pain

Can acupuncture help treat your condition? You can view that question in two ways: from the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) perspective or from the Western research perspective.

In TCM, acupuncture is one technique, along with herbs, massage, exercise and other therapies, that can restore the flow of energy (Qi) in the body, potentially helping to treat a wide range of conditions. From this perspective, acupuncture is one part of a complete, individualized healing program.

Acupuncture: Conditions Treated

The Western perspective tends to look at the effects of each individual therapy, such as acupuncture. Conditions treated most commonly are various types of pain and nausea after chemotherapy. However, the World Health Organization (2003) provides a long list of conditions for which controlled trials have shown the effectiveness of acupuncture. These conditions include:

  • Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure and low blood pressure
  • Inducing labor for pregnant women and helping the baby turn to the proper position for birth
  • Leukopenia (abnormal decrease in white blood cells)
  • Nausea and vomiting, including morning sickness
  • Pain of many types
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Side effects of radiation therapy and chemotherapy
  • Sprain
  • Stroke
  • Tennis elbow.

Acupuncture for Pain

Acupuncture may alleviate the following conditions and types of pain:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Dental pain
  • Facial pain, including temporomandibular dysfunction (TMJ disorder)
  • Headache
  • Knee pain
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Neck and back pain
  • Postoperative pain
  • Sciatica.

While some sources enthusiastically endorse acupuncture for pain, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2009) takes a conservative view, noting that comparing acupuncture research results from different studies is difficult because the studies use different acupuncture techniques, controls (comparison groups) and measures for outcomes.

In discussing acupuncture research, note that studies don’t use acupuncture in the same way that acupuncturists do in real life. Acupuncture is meant to be an individualized therapy, and each person’s specific treatment plan is based on several factors, including patient history and overall health. Controlled studies, on the other hand, apply one treatment protocol to all study participants.

Resources (n.d.). TCM research subject index. Retrieved March 11, 2011, from

Joswick, D. (n.d.). What can acupuncture treat? Retrieved March 11, 2011, from Information/Detail/What can acupuncture treat

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (2009). Acupuncture for pain. Retrieved March 11, 2011, from

World Health Organization. (2003). Acupuncture: Review and analysis of reports on controlled clinical trials. Retrieved March 11, 2011, from