Acupuncture- An Effective Solution to Pain Management by Alex Coulson – Naturopathic Doctor | #WellBeingWednesday

Acupuncture- An Effective Solution to Pain Management
Alex Coulson
Naturopathic Doctor

Alex hands with acu

Pain is a relevant topic of discussion for almost everyone. At some point in your life, you’ve probably experienced a twisted ankle or knee. Maybe you’re battling chronic back pain from sitting at a desk all day. Or maybe you’re feeling the insidious effects of osteoarthritis.

Acupuncture is an option you need to know about. The insertion of tiny needles at intentionally chosen points has been clinically shown to impact pain perception. The mechanism is quite complicated, and has to do with altering the processing and perception of pain. The process occurs both locally and distal to the site of injury. Specifically, needle insertion stimulates the release of natural pain-relieving endorphins including serotonin. These endorphins act at the site to minimize your perception of pain, and impact the spinal cord and brain to elicit centrally acting effects as well. For example, brain imaging has shown altered activity patterns in the areas interpreting pain signals with the administration of acupuncture. Furthermore, the addition of a slight, painless electrical impulse through the needle (known as electroacupuncture) has similar effects to injected morphine, but without the possible safety and addiction concerns.

Pain can lead to social, psychological and physical complications, so it’s important you know your options. Mainstream treatment protocols include opioid pharmaceuticals, which are effective, but possibly coupled with side effects and adaptation effects (meaning the longer you take them, the less effective they are). Acupuncture may not be a replacement for medication, but will serve as a viable adjuvant therapy, resulting in lower dosages and shorter duration of pharmaceutical management.

Chronic pain is one of the top reasons for health care visits- both at your GP’s office and in the ER. It’s an important issue to everyone, and it’s important to know you can find relief with natural, effective and sustainable approaches. If pain is affecting your quality of life, I strongly recommend consulting a Naturopathic Doctor experienced with pain management.

DR. ALEX COULSON, ND is a licensed and board certified Naturopathic Doctor practicing at Balance, a Toronto boutique fitness centre.












P. Baeumler, J. Fleckenstein, S. Takayama et al., “Effects of acupuncture of sensory perception: a systematic review and meta-analysis,” Plos One, vol. 9, no.12, 2014.

A. Kizhakkeveettil, K. Rose & GE. Kadar, “Integrative therapies for low back pain that include complementary and alternative medicine care: a systematic review,” Glob Adv Health Med, vol. 3, no.5, pp49-64, 2014.

Y. Zeng, S. Tsai, K. Chen et al., “Comparison of electroacupuncture and morphine-mediated analgesic patterns in a plantar incision-induced pain model,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, article ID. 659343, 2014.

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