Considering Acupuncture As A Safer Pain Management Tool Over Opioids

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Here at the clinic we champion a safe, side effect-free approach to pain management. An individual’s specific health complaints are what guide medical practitioners, helping them to determine a suitable course of treatment. While there are certain cases that require strong painkillers, the use of opioids in the United States is on the rise. Recent studies have provided evidence that opioids can in fact worsen and extend chronic pain. Many MDs prescribe these potentially harmful drugs despite safer options being made available, one of which is acupuncture.

This opinion is shared by Constance Scharff, author of a recent Huffington Post article that outlines why acupuncture is worth considering in the realm of pain management. Scharff is the Director of Addiction Research at Cliffside Malibu and has published several books on addiction recovery, women’s health, and overcoming trauma. Her stance on acupuncture as a viable alternative to opioids stems from the opinion of Traditional Chinese Medicine within the Western medical community. Specifically, that it is seldom offered by MDs:

“This omission in treatment options is unfortunate, as acupuncture has a long history of being used as effective pain relief and could and should be used in place of opioid painkillers in many situations. For example, a recent study conducted by physicians in several Melbourne hospitals’ emergency departments found that treating patients’ pain with acupuncture was just as effective as western medicines at treating pain.”

That study Scharff references was undertaken back in 2014 in Australia, prompting additional trials here in the U.S. Earlier this year a Minneapolis hospital released the results of its own attempts to treat ER patients with acupuncture instead of opioids. The outcome was a success in all arenas, giving relief to patients and lowering hospital costs. While there’s still much progress to be made in creating a harmonious treatment system that uses both TCM and Western medicine, there is sufficient proof to show that Western doctors’ attitudes are changing on the topic.

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