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January 7, 2019/Living Healthy/Wellness

Need Pain Relief? Try Acupuncture Instead of Opioids

New government advisory recommends non-addictive options first

acupuncture on knee

Not all pain needs to be treated with prescription medication. That’s why a recent advisory recommends opioid-free, non-addictive alternatives, like acupuncture, as the first step to relieve pain.


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Acupuncturist Jamie Starkey, LAC, says studies have shown that acupuncture can be effective for treating many types of pain.

We’re able to treat a host of pain-related issues such as chronic pain, neck pain and migraines. Any pain condition can really be nicely addressed with acupuncture with minimal, if any, side effects.

How acupuncture relieves pain

During acupuncture treatment, a trained medical professional gently inserts very fine needles into various parts of the body.

Research shows the pain relieving effect is three-fold, Starkey says.

  1. Acupuncture manipulates the nervous system to release natural pain relieving chemicals, called endorphins.
  2. Next, there’s a reduction of inflammation.
  3. Finally, specific areas of the muscles, called trigger points, can be targeted to calm spasms.

How many sessions of acupuncture do you need?

On average, Starkey recommends five to eight consecutive acupuncture visits for best results.

Not only do most people have less pain, but Starkey says they also have better function, sleep and mood.

“We not only see changes in their primary complaint, which would be improvement in pain scores. But we also see a lot of secondary improvement as well as an improvement in overall quality of life,” she notes.

Many insurance companies will cover acupuncture to treat pain, Starkey says. But if you have questions or concerns, she recommends calling your insurance provider for additional information.

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