Gone are the days when doctors only prescribe medication for pain. New FDA guidelines recommend that physicians now get information about chiropractic care and acupuncture as therapies that might help patients avoid prescription opioids. What a positive step forward! Acupuncture naturally coalesces with western medicine into effective multi-disciplinary treatments that safely help alleviate not only pain, but also a host of other physical problems.
If you require further convincing of the effectiveness of this combination, allow me to present these five compelling reasons why MDs should embrace and recommend acupuncture:
1. Patients avoid medication side effects
For example, America’s opioid crisis highlights the importance of alternative non-drug therapies. According the Center for Disease Control, 1,000 people per day are treated in emergency departments for not using opioid drugs as directed. Addiction and accidental overdose are not the only risks. Long term use of pain medications carry the risk of organ damage. This applies not only to prescription medication. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as Tylenol can inflict organ damage as well. Then there are people who cannot tolerate any medications at all—not just pain medications. Acupuncture is a viable alternative for these people.
2. Patients avoid surgery.
Let’s look at the example of knee osteoarthritis. A recent analysis of previous scientific studies found no long-term advantages of surgery over conservative management strategies. In fact, a group of specialists including surgeons, physiotherapists and patients issued guidelines discouraging arthroscopic surgery for many types of knee arthritis and meniscus tears. Acupuncture helps osteoarthritis and other joint pain in several ways. It stimulates the brain to release beta endorphins, the body’s own opioid pain relievers. Acupuncture also can be used to release tight muscles surrounding painful joints, thus reducing stress on the joint. Acupuncture also stimulates blood flow to the injured and painful area.
3. Patients save money.
Even insurance companies are waking up to the benefits of acupuncture as a safe and effective form of pain treatment. When it comes down to it, why wouldn’t they cover acupuncture? It costs pennies when compared to surgeries and other costly procedures, many of which have mixed results at best when dealing with pain issues. Patients benefit in the form of lower overall co-insurance payments and down-time from work.
4. Patients recover quickly.
Acupuncture speeds recovery from minor injuries such as muscle strains and sprains. However, sometimes, chronic problems or severe traumatic injuries, can’t be helped only with conservative treatments and surgery is warranted. In such cases acupuncture helps reduce post-surgery recovery time. Acupuncture’s pain-relieving capabilities come into play here as does it’s ability to increase circulation to the surgical site. Acupuncture also boosts the immune system, which aids in the healing process.
5. Patients feel cared for.
In my practice, I often hear words such as, “if only I found you before I had surgery . . .”. It is sad and unfortunate when pain patients are told surgery and/or pharmaceutical medications are their only hope when acupuncture could help manage and improve their condition.
Couldn’t we all benefit from physicians’ acceptance of complimentary healing practices? I am asked weekly for referrals to MDs who are open to natural and complementary modes of care. Patients are eager for safe, effective, conservative care and will spread the word.
If you know friends or family who could benefit from acupuncture, feel free to have them contact this office.