Partnering in the Treatment of Pain
I was recently invited to attend the Chinese New Year meeting and celebration of the Acupuncture Association. Living in New York offers exposure to a large Chinese population. Thus, to the practice of acupuncture which is an important component of Chinese traditional medicine. It is used to address the balance of energy in the body because when it is out of balance, illness occurs.
I believe that acupuncturists can be partners in treating the pain of conditions like osteoarthritis. If acupuncture is performed correctly, it is safe, and has few side effects. Also, it can be combined effectively with other treatments to help control some types of pain. It may be useful, for instance, in situations where pain medications are unsuitable.
Turning to Alternative Medicine
Americans are increasingly turning to alternative medicine although Western physicians have their doubts as to its efficacy. Acupuncture involves inserting needles into various points in the body in combinations to balance energy.
Some studies have indicated that acupuncture does help to relieve pain. Neuroscience is used by some scientists to explain its benefits – the acupuncture points are places where muscles and nerves are stimulated. In turn, increases the blood flow and triggers activation of the natural painkillers in the body.
In doing the research into acupuncture, it is difficult to set up scientific controls. In any clinical study, a control group has to receive a placebo to compare results.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that acupuncture definitely helps to relieve pain in certain conditions such as osteoarthritis, but more clinical trials are needed.
I am in the process of doing a double-blind clinical trial of another kind at Park Avenue Stem Cell in New York. This involves a treatment that is also supported by much anecdotal evidence but needs scientific data to back it up.
The trial involves the use of adipose-derived stem cells to treat osteoarthritis in the knee. Stem cells are deployed into the knee joint of the patient where cartilage has suffered damage. The data collected from trials like this will be reviewed by the FDA and help to corroborate anecdotal evidence.