Struggling with pain is hard. Whether it’s joint or muscle pain, headaches and/or migraines, or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD) there are a few approaches I take in my clinical practice.
I still remember the very first patient in my clinical practice who struggled with pain and insomnia. The first line of action was to help her get some good sleep. It was like a miracle for her; as long as she slept well the pain was non-existent. This is not always the case, but it highlights the need for good sleep to heal and recover. In some cases, the pain is the very reason why some people can’t sleep; then, we aim at healing both the root cause of insomnia and the pain.
Identifying what is at the root of pain is indeed complex. It can vary from localized inflammation that causes tendonitis to migraines or headaches that have food sensitivities at the root. A combination of acupuncture, lifestyle changes, food choices and proper supplementation with herbs and nutrients can help you heal if you are struggling with pain.
Pain issues treated with acupuncture and functional medicine
There are particular types of pain that I see more commonly in my practice. Some of them have the same root and are closely related to the sleep issues I commonly see.
Some frequent types of pain I see in the clinic are the following:
- Chronic muscle and/or joint pain
- Headaches and migraines
- TMJD, jaw tension from clenching and teeth grinding
- Neck pain and upper body tension
- Low back pain, acute or chronic
- Mid-back tension, especially around the shoulder blades
- Shoulder and hip pain
- Knee pain
- Menstrual pain
- Rheumatoid arthritis
How acupuncture helps pain issues
Acupuncture is widely recognized and published as one of the best therapies for pain. Over the years, I have seen it work as quickly as in one session. This is important especially in acute cases. Generally, it takes a few sessions to get relief and maintain the results long-term.
Here are some of the ways acupuncture is effective for pain:
- Acupuncture helps by releasing endorphins; that is one of the reasons you feel so relaxed at the end of a session.
- Muscle tension can lead to a lot of pain; acupuncture is particularly effective for relaxing muscles.
- Releasing an abundance of the body’s natural pain-killing chemicals also helps to relieve pain.
- Acupuncture increases circulation to the affected area to bring more blood and nutrition
- For migraines and headaches, it can release upper back tension, which is often related to these issues
- It helps decrease inflammation in the body, which is beneficial for many types of pain
How functional medicine can help heal you and recover from pain
In order to treat pain effectively, in functional medicine we look at a few different aspects:
- Look at the inflammatory response and mediators; identify where the inflammation is coming from.
- Identify any neurotransmitters and receptor imbalances; look at possible pain amplification and why this happens in the central nervous system.
- Establish the type of structural imbalances and help correct them
- Find genetic tendencies that may be playing a role.
Treatment approach for pain with functional medicine
I oftentimes blend acupuncture with functional medicine for best results. These are some of the main steps I take to speed up healing:
- Food-first approach is crucial; many of my patients do a short food plan for a month to identify possible triggers, and educate them on what foods help enhance the healing process and which ones are detrimental.
- Addressing stress relief, sleep and exercise.
- Improving glycemic response and possible weight issues.
- Addressing intestinal permeability since it can affect brain permeability and lead to more pain.
- Systematically looking at the many possible triggers that may cause headaches and migraines.
Whether acute or chronic pain is affecting you, I am happy to help you figure out how you can heal. Book an appointment online for an initial session or a complimentary consult.