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Health Check: benefits of acupuncture for chronic pain
Whether it's the local police station or your local drug store, drop boxes to dispose of old medicines are becoming more common. They're designed to help combat drug abuse and addiction, particularly, prescription painkillers.

"I don't believe this epidemic is going away anytime soon," Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said at an event in June. "A 39 percent increase from 2015 to 2016. The preliminary numbers I've seen already here in 2017, in my county alone, indicate 10, 12, maybe as much as a 15 percent increase over last year."

It's a sobering statistic considering the ongoing efforts made to combat the opioid problem.

"The United States consumes 90-plus percent of the world's Vicodin, so there's something culturally that we need to address in the way that we treat chronic pain," said Michael Egan, a licensed acupuncturist from the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing at WestHealth in Plymouth.

One possible solution, according to Egan, is acupuncture.

"Acupuncture stimulates the body to do what it knows how to do, which is heal," he said.

Using needles the size of a cat whisker, Egan demonstrated the treatment on CCX News intern Kelsey Christensen. While Christensen doesn't suffer from chronic pain, she does experience stress related to lack of sleep and working multiple jobs.

The needles help release neurotransmitters, which are natural opioids that change the perception of pain. The end result after treatment was a calm and stress-free intern.

"I didn't feel anything but relaxation," Christensen said. "It was really nice, actually."

The hope is that more people will consider non-drug therapies for chronic pain treatment and only use opioids as a last resort.

"Certainly acupuncture is a cost-effective, safe, viable option for the treatment of chronic pain, and the research really supports that," Egan said.

Meanwhile, if you do seek acupuncture treatment, experts advise people to look for someone who's a licensed acupuncturist. The needles are usually left in place for 20 to 30 minutes.


Delane Cleveland
dcleveland@ccxmedia.org

Aug. 1, 2017

 

 
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