• Pain: A Global Problem

  • Shot of a businessman suffering from back pain while working at home

    More than 1.5 billion people suffer from chronic pain worldwide, with one third of American adults experiencing chronic pain. The top three sources of chronic pain include low back pain, neck pain, and severe headache or migraine pain. There are two different types of pain:

    Acute pain comes on suddenly, alerting you that you have suffered an injury. When the injury has healed, the pain ceases. In this type of injury, the pain stems from the pressure from inflammation in the nerves and tissues at the injury site, often leading to swelling. This is a common healing response.

    Chronic pain is a type of pain that continues long after the injury has healed. It can last for weeks, months, years or a lifetime. It has long been assumed that an injury becomes chronic when nerves have been damaged. But now new research suggests chronic pain may also stem from a malfunction in how the brain processes sensory information.

    Impact of Pain on Americans

    Interrupted sleep is a big side effect of chronic pain. In fact, about two-thirds of those with chronic pain also have problems sleeping. But that lack of quality sleep often aggravates the pain, which adds to the continuing cycle of pain and daytime fatigue paired with sleepless nights.

    When pain goes untreated properly, it can lead to longer hospital visits, more re-hospitalizations, more outpatient visits, and lessened ability to function properly. In turn, many people miss work, losing income and insurance coverage. Therefore, chronic pain has financial costs as well as emotional and physical costs for both the patient and their family members.

    The Cost of Chronic Pain

    Chronic pain costs employers a lot of money in healthcare and rehabilitation costs, not to mention lost worker productivity. According to the Harvard Business Reviews, annual health care costs for chronic back and joint pain totals more than $380 billion. Headache pain is the most common cause of lost productivity at work.

    Yet traditional ways of treating chronic pain are expensive and often times quite ineffective. They can also be addicting. In fact, opioid addiction is an epidemic in this country. Even surgeries can cost up to $150,000 and more, just to treat pain.

    Why, then, are drugs so quickly prescribed as a first line treatment? Especially when you consider that only 25 percent of people with chronic pain find opiates effective when it comes to low back pain.

    In fact, studies show that people who take opioids are actually in more pain at the one-year mark than others who took non-opioid pain relief. Opiate abuse and depression have become synonymous with pain relief in this country, with prescription opiates resulting in more overdose deaths than overdose deaths due to injecting heroin.

    In 2019 alone, 50,000 people in the United States died from opioid overdoses, with the misuse and addiction to opioids (heroin, prescription pain relievers, and fentanyl) now a serious national crisis that not only impacts public health but economic and social welfare as well, says the NIH.

    An Effective Alternative to Chronic Pain Management: Acupuncture

    Acupuncture is an effective way to treat pain, helping to reduce suffering in patients who have chronic pain, especially those suffering from specific conditions such as back and neck pain, joint paint and migraines.

    In one study, 93% of patients said that their acupuncturist had successfully treated their musculoskeletal pain. Another showed that acupuncture is an effective treatment method for chronic pain, especially in regards to long-term pain relief. There has been mounting evidence that supports the effective nature of acupuncture in treating chronic low back, neck, knee and shoulder pain, along with headache pain. The use of acupuncture may also be recommended in combination with opioids or as an alternative to opioids.

    So how does acupuncture work to relieve pain? Studies are still being done, but it is believed that acupuncture relieves pain by letting out endorphins, natural pain-killing chemicals, as well as by affecting the area of your brain responsible for serotonin, a chemical associated with mood.

    Contact Metro Detroit Acupuncture

    If you suffer from chronic pain and would like to try acupuncture as a safe way to treat it, call us at (248) 432-2846. We are Metro Detroit’s leading acupuncture and pain management clinic.