Pain & headache treatments in Geelong

Pain is a distressing sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage. Pain is your body’s way of alerting you to danger and letting you know what’s happening in your body. You perceive pain through sensory nerve cells. How you feel and react to pain depends on what’s causing it, as well as many personal factors. People seeking pain treatments and those seeking acupuncture and Chinese stress medicines from our Geelong clinic make up a large proportion of our patients.

While usually pain is not a condition in itself, but rather an indication/symptom of a problem somewhere in the body, if dysfunctional it can become a disease in its own right.

Pain is the most common reason that people seek medical help and can come in many forms. Usually, the location of the pain within the body corresponds with the location of the problem it is indicating, however, cases in which pain is experienced in a location away from the problem also exist, i.e. leg pain resulting from a prolapsed disk pushing on a nerve in the back. Pain can affect any part of your body.

Some of the most common forms of pain are:

  • Back and neck pain
  • Shoulder pain, hip pain, knee pain, ankle pain, elbow pain, joint pain,
  • Headaches, migraine
  • Pain from nerve damage,
  • Pain from an injury,
  • Cancer pain,
  • Pain-related conditions such as fibromyalgia (a disorder that causes widespread musculoskeletal pain).

Acute versus chronic pain

There are two major categories of pain. Pain can be short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic).

Acute pain

Acute pain is pain lasting less than three months and occurs following surgery or trauma or other conditions. One third of people do not know what causes their pain. Although it usually improves as the body heals, in some cases, it may not.

Chronic pain

Chronic pain is pain that lasts beyond three months, the time needed for issues to heal following surgery or trauma or other conditions. It is often associated with an increased pain experience, which may spread beyond the area of injury into surrounding tissue or nerves. It can also exist without a clear reason at all.

Pain according to Chinese medicine

The following simple yet profound statement sums up the very essence of the Chinese medical view of pain:

  • If there is free flow of Qi, there is no pain;
  • If there is no free flow of Qi, there is pain.

This means that, as long as qi (vital energy) and blood circulate freely and smoothly without hindrance or obstruction, there is no pain in the body. However, if, due to any reason, the flow of qi and blood is hindered, blocked, obstructed, or insufficient flow, then there will be pain.

Please watch this video for an analogy

There are two main causes of the lack of free flow of the qi and blood, either:

  1. OBSTRUCTION: something is blocking or obstructing the flow of qi and blood through the channels and vessels (Emotions/ Injury/ Structural change/ Food obstruction/ Environmental stresses (Wind, cold, heat and damp) or,
  2. LACK OF NOURISHMENT: there is insufficient qi and blood to maintain smooth and free flow (Old age/ Chronic disease/ Blood loss/ Organ damage or decreased functioning/ overuse or overworked
Causes Of Pain
Main causes and influence factors of pain from Chinese medicine view.

All pain, no matter what its modern Western medical diagnosis, is considered by Chinese medicine as a problem with free flow of qi and blood.
The flow of qi and blood can become inhibited in any and every area of the body: the internal organs, the muscles, the head, the lower back, and the extremities and joints.

Thus, in Chinese medicine, pain is the felt experience of the inability of the body to keep up with the maintenance of the body, be this supplying adequate nutrition/energy, regeneration of injured body parts/organs, replenishing vital cellular products, toxin processing and waste removal to maintain proper operation of the body.

In Chinese medicine, all pain disturbs the mind. This explains why people with pain often suffer from anxiety, depression and / or poor sleep.

Our approaches to pain

The basic principle of treatment in Chinese medicine is to first calm the mind, then restore the flow of Qi.

In Chinese medicine, two patients with the same Western medical disease may receive radically different Chinese medicine treatment because the root cause of their disease is different. This means that every patient in Chinese medicine is given an individualised treatment based on the cause and nature of their particular pattern of disharmony.

We will identify the pattern from Chinese medicine, contributing factors, such as sleep, anxiety, and develop a treatment plan incorporating acupuncture, auricular acupressure and/or herbal medicine. We will also advise you on self-management approaches so that you could help yourself in improving pain. We communicate with other health professionals who also help you so that you have a supporting network.

Acupuncture for Pain Management – What research says

There is considerable evidence of acupuncture for acute and chronic pain.

For acute pain, a 2017 systematic review found that acupuncture was more effective than both sham needling and injection with painkillers.

For chronic pain, in 2007 the largest study of its kind to date, 454,920 patients were treated with acupuncture for headache, low back pain, and/or osteoarthritis. Effectiveness was rated as marked or moderate in 76% of cases.

In a two-year retroactive survey published in 2016 of over 89,000 patients, 93% of patients said that their acupuncturist had been successful in treating their musculoskeletal pain.

Another 2017 study paper titled ‘Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: an Update and Critical Overview’ concluded that “mounting evidence supports the effectiveness of acupuncture to treat chronic low back, neck, shoulder, and knee pain, as well as headaches. Also, additional data emerging supports the use of acupuncture as an adjunct or alternative to opioids, and in perioperative settings.

Two recent 2016, 2017 systematic reviews reported positive results of acupuncture in the relief of cancer-related pain. A 2015 systematic review and meta-analysis suggested that acupuncture was useful in decreasing postoperative pain.

Please also check out Dr Zhen Zheng’s research on acupuncture for:

  • Migraine
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Reducing opioids use for chronic pain patients
  • Post-operative pain

Geelong Chinese Medical Clinic provides a wide range of health treatments including help with sleep problems, digestion issues and allergies and also provides Chinese women’s health and fertility medicines for Geelong and district women