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Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Offers Acupuncture

If you are interested in trying acupuncture for chronic pain relief, look no further than VCU Health’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Our expert in acupuncture, Elizabeth Huntoon, MD, completed her internship at the Mayo Clinic and provides this highly specialized complementary medicine treatment for our patients.

Acupuncture Alleviates Chronic Pain

Acupuncture is the insertion of one or more dry needles into the skin and underlying tissues at specific acupuncture points. When the needles are gently twisted, or stimulated, a measurable release of endorphins may go into the bloodstream, removing energy blocks, and the flow of energy along the meridians is restored.

Increasing Pain Tolerance

Various body chemicals called endorphins block incoming pain information through the release of serotonin and norepinephrine. Some researchers suggest that peripheral nerve stimulation can modify functional responses within the brain. In this way, your pain tolerance is increased so that one acupuncture treatment in some people may help alleviate chronic pain for weeks.

Studies have shown that acupuncture may also alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters that stimulate or inhibit nerve impulses in the brain that relay information about external stimuli and sensations (such as pain) in a good way.

Electro-Acupuncture Stimulates the Points

Another way of stimulating the acupuncture points once the needle is in place is by hooking up small wires connected to very slight electrical currents. This is known as electro-acupuncture. Heat (moxibustion) and massage (acupressure) can be used during this process. Laser acupuncture is yet another method of this alternative medicine therapy and is particularly well-suited for pain symptoms.