Stickin’ it Tue You: Acupuncture and Surgery

Acupuncture is very beneficial when it comes to pre and post-surgery. No matter what the surgery is, the body perceives this as truama to the body. In turn, this trauma takes its toll on the body in the way of stress. This stress caused by the surgery weakens the immune system, disrupts the gastrointestinal tract and leaves the body more vulnerable to infection.

Scientific evidence has shown that acupuncture stimulates the central nervous system, which is our brain and spinal chord. Acupuncture points are strategic conductors of electromagnetic signals. When these points are stimulated, they release endorphins, our natural pain killers in the body. Acupuncture has been shown to change our brain chemistry related to sensation, innvoluntary body functions and in turn, strengthens our immune system. Acupuncture regulates blood pressure, blood flow and body temperature.

Before surgery, we sometimes manifest symptoms in the form of physical pain, fatigue, tingling or numbness or most certainly stress and anxiety. Just thinking about the procedure can make us a nervous wreck. Acupuncture is very helpful during this time, since it helps to relieve anxiety, decrease pain symptoms that maybe occurring and strengthening the immune function. This gives us the advantage, even during surgery since acupuncture can regulate blood and body fluids.

After surgery, our bodies perceive this invasive procedure, as an attack. Our immune system is weakened, the gastrointestinal tract is compromised and this leaves our bodies more vulnerable to infection. Acupuncture, post-surgery, can start as soon as possible. Acupuncture accelerates the healing process, increases the immune function, helps the body build more red blood cells and regulates blood, increase circulation of lymph and other body fluids, regulates the gastrointestinal tract and relieves pain. Scar tissue is another factor with surgery. Usually two weeks after surgery, scar therapy with acupuncture needles can be done to help reduce the size as well as prevent keloid healing.

Depending on the surgery, herbal medicine can be used to help speed up the recovery time and help reduce scarring, as well. Supplements that can boost the immune function and reduce infection include vitamins, minerals and amino acid.

Glutamine is one of the most abundant amino acids in our bodies, found in the gastrointestinal tract. This amino acid is compromised when there is surgery or the immune function is low. Studies have shown that Glutamine is one of the best amino acid supplements after surgery.

Vitamins A, C and the B vitamins increase the immune function and help with wound healing.
Minerals such as Selenium help to stimulate immune function and fight infection, while Zinc enhances the immune system and assists in wound healing.

Acupuncture can also significantly reduce surgical patients’ post-operative pain, and their need for powerful opioids to treat pain, according to new research from Duke University Medical Center that was published in October, 2007.

Anesthesiologists from Duke University combed over data from over 15 randomized clinical trials from China, the United Stated and the United Kingdom to reach their conclusion. The results showed that an acupuncture treatment before surgery followed by acupuncture treatments after the surgery significantly reduced levels of postoperative pain as well as the use of painkillers after surgery.
“The most important outcome for the patient is the reduction of the side effects associated with opioids,” said T.J. Gan, M.D., the Duke anesthesiologist who presented the study at the annual scientific conference of the American Society for Anesthesiology in San Francisco in October 2007.

More research, presented at the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ meeting in 2005 showed that acupuncture reduced rates of postoperative nausea by 32%, pruritus by 25%, dizziness by 38%, and urinary retention by 71% compared with control groups.

Acupuncture is excellent for post-surgical side effects including:

  • Post-operative pain
  • Pruritis (itch or a sensation that makes a person want to scratch)
  • Dizziness
  • Incontinence
  • Upset stomach/nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling
  • Scar Tissue
  • Scarring

Avoiding Surgery with Acupuncture

If you have suffered an injury and want to avoid surgery, acupuncture can help. Acupuncture is extremely effective at treating injuries occurring from sports, work or auto accidents and surgical interventions.,  In fact, any condition that is the result of trauma or overuse involving the musculoskeletal system and its soft tissues can be treated with acupuncture.

Usually an individualized treatment protocols that combines acupuncture, herbal medicine, physical therapy, chiropractic and nutrition can maximize your healing potential for a wide variety of injuries and pain syndromes. Call our office today at (304) 263-4927 to schedule an appointment to begin your individualized treatment protocol. Dr Terry Chambers is a Board certified chiropractor and  acupuncturist, licensed in WV.


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