Chronic pain can come in many different forms. From joint pain to chronic headaches, pain is something that can be debilitating, impacting the overall quality of one’s life.
It’s estimated that billions of people suffer from chronic pain worldwide. And, while a Western medicine approach only treats the symptoms, a holistic approach using Chinese Medicine treats the root cause, helping to provide long-lasting relief.
“If there is free flow, there is no pain;
If there is no free flow, there is pain.”
In Chinese Medicine, we like to say that if there is free flow, and then there isn’t any pain. If there is no free flow in the body’s energy channels, it opens the door for pain. This refers to the body’s meridians. If there is a blockage, it can result in chronic pain.
And, generally speaking, in Chinese medicine, we view pain as a condition where the energy in the body, known as the Qi becomes stuck in an area, which can affect the Qi flow. This can result from disorders in internal organs or various disturbances that can happen along these channels.
There are two main causes of this lack of flow, including:
- Something is blocking the smooth flow of Qi as well as blood through the meridians.
- There isn’t enough Qi and blood in order to help keep that flow smooth.
Chinese medicine is different than Western medicine, because we aim to address the root cause of these Qi and meridian blockages in order to treat the root cause. This results in much longer-term relief.
Types of Pain
Not all pain is the same. There are different types of pain, and pain can feel different depending on the source.
Back pain: This can be due to heavy lifting, exercise, or overexertion that can also cause muscle spasms. This type of pain can also be caused by both internal as well as external causes. External causes can be caused by things like wind, cold, summer heat, dryness, dampness, and fire, known as the climatic factors. Internal causes include stress as well as liver depletion.
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Arthritis and joint pain: These can be caused by a blockage in the flow of Qi or meridians throughout the body. Arthritis and joint pain can be caused by internal dampness, cold, and or wind that can get into the body through the joints.
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Menstrual Cramps: Menstrual cramps can be caused by poor blood circulation and inflammation due to internal coldness. Along with Qi stagnation and blood stasis, or spleen and kidney yang deficiency. These can all be caused by stress, unhealthy lifestyle and dietary choices, and even genetics.
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Fibromyalgia and Muscle Pain: Fibromyalgia can lead to muscle pain, and it’s important to use a holistic approach to get to the root of the problem. In TCM, treating underlying conditions, as well as treating any dampness, wind, or cold, is an important part of getting relief from the fibromyalgia pain.
Sports Injuries: Sports injuries can lead to chronic pain, and treating the pain with medication is only putting a temporary fix on the issue. If the sports injury results in muscle damage, it’s important to get the proper treatment, such as acupuncture. Also energy blockage can occur due to Qi or Blood being stagnant.
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Nerve Pain: Nerve pain, like in the case of conditions like Guillain-Barre Syndrome, can attack healthy nerve cells in the peripheral nervous system, which can cause weakness, numbness, tingling, and even paralysis. A Chinese medicine approach, that includes acupuncture treatment can help restore the body’s balance, treats underlying deficiencies and helps reduce nerve pain in many patients.
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Headaches: In TCM, we look at root causes of what’s going on and what may be leading to the headache pain in the first place. There are two causes of headaches. External or internal factors obstruct the flow of qi, blocks energy channels, and cause stagnation or imbalance.
Headaches can also be caused by obstructions due to invasion of wind to fire, which can block the free flow of blood and qi in the head.
Rheumatoid arthritis, infection, burning eyes, and sore throat & other symptoms: Symptoms like these can be as a result of toxic heat accumulation.
Unexplained Chronic Pain: This is result due to an imbalance in the immune system. Deficiency in Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang could cause unexplained pains.
Natural Treatments For Pain
Acupuncture for Pain
Acupuncture works by improving blood flow, which can also relieve muscle tension, including muscle knots. It can also help support circulation to the affected painful area.
When it comes to pain, acupuncture can help stimulate peripheral nerves that send messages to the brain to release feel-good endorphins, thus reducing pain. This is also the same mechanism that leads to that relaxing feeling during an acupuncture treatment session.
Many patients find great success in acupuncture for chronic pain related to muscle stiffness, poor joint mobility, and inflammation.
One study found that 17,922 patients who received acupuncture saw improvements in back and neck pain, shoulder pain, and chronic headache.
Cupping for Pain
Cupping is another TCM modality commonly used to help address chronic pain. It helps release tissue that’s deep inside the body, which can help relax tense muscles. Many athletes turn to cupping to help reduce pain, stiffness, and boost athletic performance.
It’s becoming a popular modality to use to ease pain, and even celebrities have turned to this natural approach, including Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian, and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Don’t Let Chronic Pain Get You Down
If you suffer from chronic pain, turning to TCM may be extremely beneficial. A Chinese medicine approach does not come with all the side effects pain medications do, and this approach works to get to the source of the pain for long-lasting relief.
If you are dealing with pain, see what TCM can do for you. It may be the gamechanger you need to finally gain control over the pain that may be holding you back from your fullest potential each day.