People come to me seeking pain relief for three primary reasons:

  1. They have a history with acupuncture–it has helped them in the past.
  2. Someone they know and trust said it worked for them or someone they know.
  3. They feel like they have run out of options and are ready to try anything.

Others haven’t tried acupuncture yet because:

  1. They are using other modalities.
  2. The are “terrified” of needles.
  3. They feel there is no science behind it, that it hasn’t been researched properly.

With that last point in mind I will occasionally share some of the latest research surrounding “how acupuncture works.”

This morning I came across a study in which researchers ask of acupuncture, “How much relief is due to the  perception that acupuncture needles are actually dulling pain—as opposed to affecting a real biological change in the way nerves signal the brain to pain?”

The study by by Dr. Nina Theysohn at the University Hospital in Essen, Germany, and colleagues at University of Duisburg-Essen documented a specific pattern of brain activation during acupuncture that may represent an accessible pathway for addressing pain. Read about it here. For a little more technical assessment here is The Radiology Society of North America (RSNA) report.