There are many treatment options for control of spine pain. Acupuncture is one of these. Acupuncture has been used in the Far East for nearly four thousand years for many medical problems - including pain. The technique involves inserting needles into selected sites in the body to promote healing without use of medication or surgery. In the United States acupuncture is used to treat pain and less often substance abuse.
Acupuncture stimulates the nervous system to produce signals that result in chemical release to:
- block or modify pain
- release the body's own anti-inflammatory substances
- establish memory within the nervous system to sustain pain control. Response to acupuncture may be immediate or delayed.
30% of people do not respond at all. Pain problems should be addressed as early as possible. A typical acupuncture session consists of needle placement for 20-30 minutes, with or without electrical stimulation of the inserted needles. Needles used are sterile and disposable. A treatment program might include 4-6 sessions; if a response occurs, it will typically do so in that period.
There is no special preparation for acupuncture and there are no tests that forecast its success. Most insurance carriers, including Medicare, do not cover acupuncture charges. Side effects are uncommon and include localized pain or bleeding at a needle site; fainting or feeling light headed; or even infection. Acupuncture is licensed in many states, including New York; licensure indicates that an acupuncturist has met state requirements for the practice of acupuncture.