In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), pain is a consequence of Qi and Blood Stagnation or Deficiency. When the flow of qi and blood is disrupted, it affects certain areas of the body as they’re not receiving enough nourishment, leading to mild or chronic pain. You could experience it in the form of a headache, sore throat, joint pain, stomach pain, or stiff and sore muscles, just to name a few symptoms.
Find out how to obtain pain relief the natural way.
Acute Pain vs. Chronic Pain
Knowing the difference between acute and chronic pain is essential to determine the treatment you need.
Acute pain is described as a sharp discomfort that takes place suddenly, provoked by something specific. This means the cause is defined and treatable. It usually lasts for less than six months and goes away when the primary source of the pain has ended or healed.
Examples of acute pain could be:
- Broken bones
- Cuts or burns
- Dental work
Once the acute pain subsides, life goes on as usual. In contrast, chronic pain repeatedly occurs over a longer period and can remain constant or come and go. It lingers after the initial illness, or injury has gone away, resulting in pain signals left active in the nervous system for several weeks, months, or even years.
Chronic pain can also take place without injury or physical body damage. Examples of chronic pain are:
- Nerve pain
TCM Treatments for Pain Relief
The first traditional Chinese practice to relieve pain is the ancient art of acupuncture. Now popular in Western culture and around the world, it involves inserting fine needles into the skin at specific acupoints. In a study focused on the role of acupuncture in pain management, the practice “enhances endogenous opiates, such as dynorphin, endorphin, encephalin, and releases corticosteroids, relieving pain and enhancing the healing process.”
Another recognised TCM remedy for pain relief is cupping therapy. A practitioner will use glass or plastic cups to apply suction and heat to the energy pathways (also termed meridians) on your body. This improves qi circulation and rejuvenates the meridians, resulting in a better-balanced body.
In a recent study from Pain Management, it is said that cupping therapy is effective in treating common chronic pain conditions for a short period. The treatment can also be done in tandem with acupuncture.
An alternative to consider is a tuina massage. Practitioners will use their fingers, hands, elbows, knees, or feet to apply pressure on a specific body region. Its rhythmic compression techniques on different energy channels of the body create a harmonious flow of qi and balance the body.
A study in 2015 highlighted that traditional massage relieved pain while improving emotional, cognitive, and executive brain dysfunction due to pain in patients suffering from chronic neck pain.
Other pain relief remedies worth mentioning are star needles, intranasal light therapy, and herbal formulas such as Eu Yan Sang’s Waist Tonic Essence.
While trying out these TCM treatments, it’s also recommended to make healthier lifestyle choices. Physician Chen emphasises the importance of exercising because it loosens the muscles around the affected area, decreasing the risk of pain recurring.
It’s never too late to try one of these traditional ways to achieve pain relief and heal your body. After all, practising self-care and looking after your well-being has many benefits, both physically and mentally.
This is an adaptation of the article “Drug-free Pain Management”, which first appeared on the Eu Yan Sang website.
- Current Pain and Headache Reports Volume 20. 2016. The Role of Acupuncture in Pain Management. [online] Available at <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26896946/> [Accessed on 13 December 2022]
- Journal of Traditional Chinese Medical Sciences. 2015. Effect of Chinese tuina massage therapy on resting state brain functional network of patients with chronic neck pain. [online] Available at <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095754815000307> [Accessed on 14 December 2022]
- Pain Management – Practices, Novel Therapies and Bioactives. 2020. The Role of Cupping Therapy in Pain Management: A Literature Review. [online] Available at <https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/73348> [Accessed on 13 December 2022]
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