Acupuncture – a traditional Chinese alternative form of medicine that has been used for hundreds of years as an essential medical practice. There are many disbeliefs regarding acupuncture as a successful treatment for various medical issues, but patients attest otherwise, with many praising its success in alleviating pain and other symptoms. Many recent studies also support that acupuncture is at least moderately effective for treating pain and nausea symptoms . For individuals with TBI, acupuncture might offer solutions for their ongoing side effects following their traumatic incident. In this article, you can learn more about how acupuncture works and what it can do to alleviate your common TBI symptoms.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Acupuncture is a process that mechanically stimulates specific acupoints with fine needles . It looks very frightening to people, especially those who are afraid of needles, but the experience is actually pleasant and satisfying due to the nerve stimulation.
This isn’t how Acupuncture was initially thought to work by the Chinese, though. In fact, the modern practice of acupuncture has changed significantly over the years of using it. For them, acupuncture is linked to the belief of disrupted flow of energy, otherwise known as “qi,” in the body, which then causes disease . Acupuncture releases this qi.
However, today, a major hypothesis is that acupuncture may work through neurohormonal pathways. In simpler terms, the needle that is put through specific points to stimulate the nerve has a direct link to the brain.
These nerves send signals to the brain, and the result is a release of neural hormones, including beta-Endorphins. Therefore, the after-effect is a feeling of euphoria, happiness, and an increased pain threshold , which may explain the decreased pain patients experience following acupuncture treatment.
This isn’t the only benefit of using acupuncture, though.
Reduced pain and feeling happy are two of the most popular benefits associated with using acupuncture, that’s quite certain. But there are also a vast number of other benefits people have experienced with using acupuncture.
For those with a traumatic brain injury, these benefits might come as a welcomed surprise.
As acupuncture gives you that euphoric feeling, there’s no wonder why it also contributes to reduced stress. This not only applies to TBI victims who are no doubt feeling stressed after their incident, but also to everyone in all aspects of life.
In a study conducted by Everyday Health, their research showed that chronic stress is a national epidemic for all genders and ages. In particular, were those aged between 25 to 35 years old. They know for certain that the causes are a complex variety of environmental, genetic, physical, spiritual, and socio-economic factors .
If you are among those who experience chronic stress, then it may definitely be worthwhile trying acupuncture. In fact, it’s also one of the top reasons people seek treatment in the form of acupuncture.
Similar to stress relief, acupuncture has the potential to aid in anxiety and depression. It’s estimated that approximately 16.2 million adults in the United States (6.7% of American adults) have had at least one major depressive episode in a year , cases are even higher with TBI survivors.
Anxiety disorders are worse, being the most common mental illness in the United States. It affects 40 million adults in the U.S (aged 18 or older). While this is a very treatable mental illness, only 36.9% of those who suffer from it receive treatment . Now imagine the staggering fact that nearly half of all TBI survivors experience depression after receiving their injury.
Acupuncture offers a holistic approach to overcoming both anxiety and depression.
If you’re someone who always struggles with headaches, which is another strong side effect of TBI, then you’ll be happy to know that acupuncture has also been used specifically to treat headaches for thousands of years !
Even those with migraines might find relief, with the acupuncture promoting the ultimate sense of relaxation and euphoria. It’s an excellent alternative form of treatment to potentially harmful drugs.
This one might sound very familiar, particularly if you are recovering mentally from a traumatic brain injury. Acupuncture patients have indeed reported that they experience enhanced mental clarity and even a burst of energy .
Acupuncture is also renowned for helping improve sleep and, therefore, is regularly used to help treat sleep disorders such as insomnia. Perhaps one of the most common side effects of TBI, insomnia is a frustrating issue, and fixing it is the key to a healthier and speedier recovery.
By improving sleep, you might feel as though you are recovering quicker and much more effectively because the body requires immense rest to heal.
Lastly, the one benefit that might apply to you the most is relief for musculoskeletal issues. After your traumatic accident, you might be feeling in a lot of pain in particular target areas, such as your neck, back, or even knee pain. Acupuncture can offer relief to these pain ailments. This is why many athletes and sportspeople visit acupuncturists to alleviate their injuries or muscle pains from sports. The many other conditions commonly treated by acupuncture include (which may also apply to you) include :
High/low blood pressure
Morning sickness (nausea)
For many, acupuncture is the solution, but it might not be right for you. It’s important to consult with a doctor and/or physical therapist prior to going ahead with acupuncture as a form of treatment for your TBI side effects.
Choosing An Acupuncturist
Typically, your doctor or physical therapist might recommend a particular acupuncturist for you. The acupuncturist should be licensed and preferably have plenty of experience in treating patients.
If it is an acupuncture practice, perhaps search or ask around for reviews of the place. This will give you a good indication that they are acceptable.
The fees for acupuncturists can vary, and some offer discounted treatment packages where the more your purchase, the lower you pay per treatment. You should be able to easily inquire by ringing them up or visiting them to discuss your requirements.
Most importantly, you want to make sure you go to a reputable acupuncturist who is licensed and has good experience working with patients. If performed correctly, acupuncture is very safe to use, and there are very few side effects associated with using it as a form of treatment.
Acupuncture can also be combined with other treatments effectively. For these reasons, acupuncture is a perfect choice for patients who cannot use particular pain medications or those who seek a drug-free, less invasive treatment.
Preparing For Acupuncture
When preparing for your first acupuncture appointment, don’t stress. Wear comfortable clothing (which may be taken off and swapped with a blanket to lie down more comfortably) and perhaps eat a light meal prior to the treatment. You don’t want to be thinking about food while you’re trying to relax!
Following the acupuncture treatment, you should avoid any strenuous activity for at least two hours. Your body should feel relaxed, and this feeling shouldn’t be disturbed during this time.
When you arrive at your appointment, the acupuncturist should ask you several questions regarding your health history, treatment plan, and they may make other recommendations based on the treatment’s end result. Don’t feel shy to ask any questions you may have.
If you are receiving acupuncture treatment for TBI side effects, you should definitely discuss your condition with them and all of the side effects you are seeking treatment for.
Acupuncture is a widely celebrated Chinese traditional medicine, and there’s little reason why one can’t try it for themselves to seek relief. Always check with your doctor or physical therapist before booking an appointment to confirm your eligibility for treatment.
Live Science – Acupuncture – Introduction
NCBI (2017) Acupuncture Improved Neurologicl Recovery after Traumatic Brain Injury by Activating BDNF/TrkB Pathway – Introduction
Live Science – Acupuncture – How Acupuncture Is Said To Work
Everyday Health (2018) – United States of Stress – Foreword by Nan-Kirsten Forte
Healthline – Depression: Facts, Statistics, and You – Types of Depression
Anxiety And Depression Association of America
Aligned Modern Health (2016) – Top 10 Benefits of Acupuncture for Workplace Stress and Pain – Point #3
Aligned Modern Health (2016) – Top 10 Benefits of Acupuncture For Workplace Stress and Pain – Point #6
Medschool UCSD – How Acupuncture Can Relieve Pain and Improve Sleep, Digestion, and Emotional Well-Being – What conditions are commonly treated by acupuncture?