Some folks remain skeptical about acupuncture. That’s understandable. In the western world, and in particular the United States, the practice is still relatively new and its popularity is still growing. Compared to acupuncture’s use in the east, and to traditional medicine’s history in the west, acupuncture here is still in its infancy in some ways.
Acupuncture is a safe, reliable, and natural way to relieve pain, and in particular, address the root causes of pain and discomfort. But its methods are not taught in western medical schools, so many doctors remain skeptical of acupuncture’s benefits and efficacy.
Dr. Conor Lavelle was one of those doctors. An emergency room doctor, Dr. Lavelle sees many patients who are complaining of chronic pain stemming from diseases like fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and more. Dr. Lavelle refers to the “pain ladder” introduced by the World Health Organization in 1986, as a guide for doctors ascribing pain management to patients. Near the top of that ladder are prescription opioids, which we now know can be damaging. But for years, doctors have thrown medications at pain problems.
“Pain is one of the most common reasons patients come to the ER,” Dr. Lavelle writes in Quartz. “Yet, we as doctors are notoriously poor at managing it. We undertreat it, sometimes sending patients home from the hospital when they’re still very uncomfortable, even to the point of being unable to perform important daily tasks like cooking and cleaning.”
Lavelle had always been aware of acupuncture, but hadn’t tried it and wouldn’t suggest it to patients because of a perceived lack of consensus around its benefits. Over the years, that has changed. Numerous studies have been done showing acupuncture’s ability to treat a wide range of pain symptoms and their root causes. So Dr. Lavelle went to try acupuncture for themself.
“After my acupuncture session, I left the clinic feeling noticeably better than I had before I arrived,” Dr. Lavelle writes. “I felt loose. My head was clear. My shoulder wasn’t sore.”
As the American Pain Society endorsed acupuncture for chronic pain management, and after experiencing the benefits firsthand, Lavelle is no longer a skeptic.
“When a frustrated patient, walking the dark path toward opioid addiction, asks me if they should try acupuncture, at least now I can tell them it’s worth a shot.”
If you suffer from chronic pain, acupuncture is more than just worth a shot.