How do acupuncture and pain go together? The first thing to bear in mind about acupuncture and pain is that the actual process of inserting the needles doesn't hurt at all - indeed, many people don't even feel the needles being inserted as they are so fine.
However, acupuncture pain management is becoming increasingly common - there is no doubt that this treatment can relieve painful symptoms for many patients.
Practitioners and western medicine have very different interpretations of just why this happens. According to practitioners, energy flows through channels (meridians) that lie between the surface of the body and the internal organs.
There are 12 main meridians, and if the flow of energy between them becomes blocked, we experience illness or discomfort. When needles are inserted at certain key points, you can unblock the energy and allow the natural flow of energy to be restored.
Western scientists take a more prosaic view of how this works. There are several systems that seem to be activated by the insertion of the needles. First of all, the needles seem to stimulate the release of key endorphins and opioids, which are the body's natural painkillers.
At the same time it is also possible that neurotransmitters and neurohormones in the brain are activated. Other research has shown that inserting the needles elevates the levels of glucose and other bloodstream chemicals.
Finally, there is research that has shown that the insertion of needles can speed up the rate at which electromagnetic signals are relayed, thus increasing the flow of healing or pain-killing chemicals to damaged areas.
Whichever view you take, there is no doubt that this can be a very effective method of treating injured areas of the body.