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Who may benefit from acupuncture treatment

Even though acupuncture is commonly used on its own for some conditions, it is becoming very popular as a combination treatment. The use of acupuncture to alleviate pain and nausea after surgery is becoming more widespread. Even the US Air Force began teaching "Battlefield Acupuncture" to physicians deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan in early 2009. Using acupuncture before and during surgery significantly reduces the level of pain and the amount of potent painkillers needed by patients after the surgery is over.

As more and more physicians accept acupuncture, a wider range of illnesses and condition are being considered for acupuncture treatment. For example, acupuncture may help indigestion symptoms commonly experienced by pregnant women. Acupuncture also offers effective relief from hot flashes in women who are being treated with the anti-estrogen tamoxifen following surgery for breast cancer.

Intensive studies have indicated that acupuncture may help in treating low back pain (according to the SPINE trial), fibromyalgia (Mayo Clinic trials), migraines, post-operative dental pain (the Cochrane review), hypertension (Center for Integrative Medicine at UC Irvine study) and osteoarthritis (according to researchers at the University Medical Center in Berlin, Germany), as well as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Other studies have shown that acupuncture may help women with painful periods. A Cochrane trial found that although acupuncture helps people with headaches, fake acupuncture also seems to help them. Clinical experience finds that acupuncture is useful for

  • Stroke rehabilitation, which involves relearning skills that a person lost because of brain damage from a stroke.
  • Headache.
  • Menstrual cramps.
  • Tennis elbow
  • Fibromyalgia or widespread pain and tenderness of muscle and soft tissue.
  • Myofascial pain, caused by spasm in the muscles.
  • Low back pain. For people who have low back pain, acupuncture may help decrease pain and increase activity. Some studies show that acupuncture reduced pain and disability related to back problems more than usual treatment.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome or pressure on a nerve in the wrist that results in tingling, numbness, weakness, or pain of the fingers and hand.
  • Asthma or inflammation in the tubes that carry air to the lungs, resulting in periodic episodes of difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing.
  • Drug addiction. Acupuncture may help reduce symptoms of withdrawal after a person stops taking a drug he or she is addicted to. It may also help prevent a relapse. More studies are needed to learn about the benefits of acupuncture.
  • Dental pain.
  • Labor pain.


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