Pain-Relief Guide: Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

By Jamie Starkey, LAc Lead Acupuncturist, Center for Integrative Medicine Wellness Institute, Cleveland Clinic

Posted on | By Jamie Starkey, LAc

“So, can you help me with my pain?" It’s the first question I’m asked when someone discovers I’m an acupuncturist.

There is not one person I’ve met who has not experienced pain to some degree. It can be temporary pain from a skinned knee or from slamming a thumb in the door to more chronic pain, such as low back pain, neck pain, migraines, or pain associated with serious diseases.

What happens when acute pain begins to linger and then transforms into a chronic condition? What happens when you’ve exhausted all conventional treatment options, you’ve undergone surgery, you’re on pain medication, and you’re STILL in pain? 

Emotionally, you may begin to feel depressed or frustrated. The pain may prevent you from getting a full night’s sleep, so now you’re sleep-deprived and irritable. Your relationships may suffer. You may not be able to think clearly and you may experience memory loss. Chronic pain is ultimately exhausting and negatively impacts your quality of life. If severe enough, it also can negatively affect your spirit and sense of self worth.  

Acupuncture is a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with a rich history and lineage dating back thousands of years to ancient China. Acupuncture is truly a medical art, as each clinician uses various approaches, techniques and styles to address their patients’ conditions; no two patients are treated the same. 

TCM is complex and abstract as we think in terms of the universal principles of Yin and Yang. We discuss theoretical concepts such as “Qi” (pronounced “chee”). Qi is incredibly challenging to translate, but can loosely be described as “life energy.” Qi is a fundamental concept in Eastern ideology and TCM. In China, it is referred to as “Qi.” In Japan, it is called “Ki”. Koreans refer to it as “Gi,” and in India, ayurvedic practitioners refer to this life energy as “Prana.”

Article written by Jamie Starkey, LAc
Lead Acupuncturist, Center for Integrative MedicineWellness Institute, Cleveland Clinic