Acute/Chronic Pain Relief in Chinese Medicine
Updated: Aug 23, 2021
In theory, pain is good. It alerts you to the fact that you are suffering from a certain degree of tissue damage and that you need to treat carefully until your body has had the opportunity to heal itself.
Acute pain is often musculo-skeletal based including joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments, but literally any other part of the body can cause and feel pain. Anything can be affected from stomach pain, headache to ear pain or even sunburn.
By definition, chronic pain is ongoing pain that has been lasting for more than three months. The baffling thing is that in some cases the cause of the pain – the initial injury or illness - has long since then healed, but the pain is there to stay. For some reason, the nervous system keeps sending pain signals to the brain. Alternatively, some tissue damage may become permanent, as it can happen in arthritis, for example. Chronic pain can be present with a long list of other symptoms, such as insomnia, tiredness, mood changes, or lack of hunger.
In Chinese medicine, pain is a sign of Stagnation similar to a big stone that is thrown into a river bed. The natural flow is interrupted and causes localized flooding. Depending on the kind of pain, two major types of stagnation are being differentiated: a dull, throbbing pain, which is due to a stagnation of Qi (energy), and a sharp, knife-like pain that is considered Blood Stagnation. The main aim of the practitioner will be to move the stagnation to reintroduce a proper flow of Qi or of the Blood.
Acupuncture points, sometimes in combination with electro-acupuncture, cupping, and herbal treatments are some of the different options available to achieve that goal, which is often sufficient in cases of acute pain. If the blockage is removed, flow can happen again.
In cases of chronic pain, but also for some acute pain presentations, the underlying cause of the stagnation has to be analysed further. For example, if you suffer from period pain, it will not be enough to try and reduce the acute pain, but the treatment target should be to prevent future episodes. This is where the other symptoms of your body come into play.
Sleep patterns, digestive issues, emotions, Excess and Deficiency conditions are all examples of further indicators for many of the true causes of pain.
If you want to discuss your specific signs and symptoms and see what CM can do for you or want to make an appointment: