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Research suggests that Acupuncture is effective and can help especially with painful conditions: back and neck pain, knee pain, and temporomandibular (TMJ) joint pain.
One piece of research looking at the effects of Acupuncture (together with Alexander Technique lessons — for rehabilitation and postural re-education) on chronic neck pain found ‘significant reductions in neck pain and associated disability’.
Another study investigating temporomandibular disorder (TMD) found that ‘complementary and alternative medicine may be effective for reducing TMD pain’ (Journal of Evidenced Based Dental Practice 2009). The study subjects received treatment in the ‘whole system’ of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which included acupuncture, herbal therapy, tui na massage, and relaxation tapes, as needed. This TCM approach significantly reduced the TMD-related average facial pain compared to usual care or naturopathic medicine.
For more on the pain-relief effects of Acupuncture, particularly with chronic pain, you might want to look at: NCCIH
Of course, for Acupuncture to be fully effective it’s usually necessary to have more than just one treatment. (Would one take just one dose of any prescribed medication? Probably not). Generally, chronic conditions might require treatment over a longer period of time (perhaps even several weeks or months) and an acute injury might resolve far more quickly, possibly after just one or two treatments. (OK, yes, acute injuries will resolve anyway, in time, even without treatment, given enough rest. However, acupuncture and manual therapy may be able to facilitate and speed up the healing process, reduce inflammation, and promote soft-tissue healing.)
For more on this you might want to see: One, Two, Three, Four… How Many Sessions More?
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