New Evidence that Acupuncture Works for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain

Researchers at the University of Michigan Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center are first to provide evidence of acupuncture’s effect on opoid receptors.

Acupuncture has been used in East-Asian medicine for thousands of years to treat pain, possibly by activating the body’s natural painkillers. But how it works at the cellular level is largely unknown.

Using brain imaging, a University of Michigan study is the first to provide evidence that traditional Chinese acupuncture affects the brain’s long-term ability to regulate pain. The results appear online ahead of publication in the September issue of Journal of NeuroImage.

In the study, researchers at the U-M Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center showed acupuncture increased the binding availability of mu-opoid receptors (MOR) in regions of the brain that process and dampen pain signals – specifically the cingulate, insula, caudate, thalamus and amygdala.

Opioid painkillers, such as morphine, codeine and other medications, are thought to work by binding to these opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord.

“The increased binding availability of these receptors was associated with reductions in pain,” says Richard E. Harris, Ph.D., researcher at the U-M Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center and a research assistant professor of anesthesiology at the U-M Medical School.

One implication of this research is that patients with chronic pain treated with acupuncture might be more responsive to opioid medications since the receptors seem to have more binding availability, Harris says.

The study participants included 20 women who had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition, for at least a year, and experienced pain at least 50 percent of the time. During the study they agreed not to take any new medications for their fibromyalgia pain.

Patients had position emission tomography, or PET, scans of the brain during the first treatment and then repeated a month later after the eighth treatment.

Reference: Journal of NeuroImage, Volume 47, Issue 3, September 2009, Pages 1077-1085 doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.05.083

Acupuncture Effective for TMJ

Patients suffering TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) can find relief from acupuncture.  Research conducted at the Ribeirão Preto Dental School, São Paulo University in Brazil, found that after 3 months of acupuncture, patients with TMJ experienced significantly less pain and increased strength of their bite .

Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders (TMJ disorders) are problems or symptoms of the chewing muscles and joints that connect your lower jaw to your skull.  17 patients were studied using acupuncture points for TMJ.

The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15 Issue 12: December 15, 2009

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

traditional-chinese-medicine-acupunctureTraditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is one of the world’s oldest professional systems of medicine. TCM is a sophisticated science that has been constantly refined for the last 3,000 years. It is a complete medical system that includes a wide variety of therapies including acupuncture, herbal medicine, dietary therapy, medical massage, and Qigong.

Unlike other forms of medicine, TCM treats both the underlying cause of a disease as well as its symptoms. At its core, TCM seeks to restore dynamic balance in the body as all diseases are understood as a departure from homeostasis and normal physiological functioning.

About our practice

Community Acupuncture of the Berkshires is a unique health care alternative located at 25 Main Street in Canaan CT. Our clinic offers high quality acupuncture treatments at less than half the cost of what a typical acupuncturist charges.

Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used systems of healing in the world. It is simple, safe, and effective. Our mission is to provide economical treatments regardless of financial situation. We strongly believe that health care is a right of all people. While Congress debates health care reform and insurance companies continue to restrict access to medical care, we are working to make this small contribution to helping people with their medical needs.

Community Acupuncture of the Berkshires (Affordable Acupuncture)
25 Main Street  Canaan, CT 06018
860-824-7727
www.berkshireqi.com