Traditional Chinese Medicine for Chronic Pain

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Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine dates back to over 3,000 years ago. It comprises an old set of mind and body practices to prevent and treat health problems. Today, Traditional Chinese Medicine is practiced not only in China, but also in several countries worldwide.

Traditional Chinese Medicine was developed under the belief that there is a natural energy flow that exists within your body, and when this flow is out of balance, you can become sick.

How Traditional Chinese Medicine Treats Pain

The Traditional Chinese Medicine definition of pain is based on the concepts of yin and yang. According to the principles of Chinese Traditional Medicine, all things, including the body, are composed of opposing forces, called yin and yang.

Consequently, your health and wellness are dependent on how well you balance of these forces. Traditional Chinese Medicine also believes that the pain you feel can be exacerbated or alleviated according to your emotional state.

The most common treatments for pain relief involve a combination of acupuncture, herbal medicines and massage therapy.

acupuncture for chronic painAcupuncture

Acupuncture is one of the key components of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is the practice of inserting very thin needles into the skin to stimulate specific points in the body. Acupuncture is believed to keep the balance between yin and yang, allowing the normal flow of energy throughout the body, and restoring health.

Several studies suggest that acupuncture may help ease some types of chronic pain, such as low-back pain, neck pain and osteoarthritis. It also may help reduce the frequency of tension headaches and prevent migraines.


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So far, studies show that, when performed by an experienced practitioner using sterile needles, acupuncture can be beneficial with few side effects. However, improperly performed acupuncture can be dangerous.

Herbal Formulas

Herbal medicine is a major component of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Over the years, this traditional medical practice has identified the properties of thousands of different herbs, and how they work to help your body restore its natural balance and health.

Herbal medicine uses a plant’s seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark or flowers for medicinal purposes. Each herb has its own distinct properties and health benefits. However, precautions and safety issues need to be taken, since some of these herbs can have serious side effects, interact with drugs or be unsafe for people with certain medical conditions.

Chinese Therapeutic MassageChinese Therapeutic Massage (tui na)

Chinese massage therapy (often referred to as tui na) has been practiced in China for over 5,000 years, and is commonly defined as the ancient healing art of fingers and strength. Nowadays, Chinese massage therapy is widely accepted as a complementary medicine. It can be an effective and safe option for managing pain, and has shown to be particularly effective in musculoskeletal conditions.

A tui na massage can be quite vigorous. The practitioner applies pressure to muscle or soft tissue at specific body locations, often pushing, rubbing, kneading or patting with high intensity to clear energy blocks along specific parts of your body.

Should I try Traditional Chinese Medicine?

If other treatments haven’t helped your pain, Traditional Chinese Medicine appears to be a reasonable option to consider. Keep in mind that it is better to use this complementary medicine under the supervision of your primary health care provider or a certified professional than to try to do it yourself.

If you are considering any of these therapeutic options, always ask about the credentials, licensing and experience of the Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner. You can find more information and tips on the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health website. Always keep your medical doctor updated on any alternative therapies you’re using to help you make informed decisions regarding these treatments.


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