Acupuncture: just a placebo or something more?

I was welcomed to my inbox this morning by an article in The Atlantic, sent by a friend.

Editor Jennie Rothenberg Gritz provides some insight into how the influx of alternative medicine is starting to shape our everyday lives. And since alternative medicine has become so present and recommended in today’s culture, there is more science being performed to back up its efficacy.

The article piqued my interest because it contains a discussion around alternative medicine having a placebo effect. Placebo – meaning a treatment only works because people think it works. My question is this: if acupuncture has been around for centuries, how can it possibly be placebo?!

Here at 5 Point Physical Therapy we try and incorporate all different forms of alternative medicine with our patients. Our goal is to try to present the pelvic floor patient with options that will compliment their physical therapy treatment so they feel supported, holistically.

I decided to have a chat with Ryan Smith over at 5 Point Acupuncture so I could gain a better understanding of what acupuncture is all about.  He explained that there are two main goals for the procedure. The first is when a client can comes in for preventive care and maintenance work. The second is when a patient wants to address a specific diagnosis and work with the acupuncturist for relief of symptoms.

We love to use acupuncture as an adjunct to pelvic floor physical therapy. We have found that it helps calm patients sympathetic nervous system and decrease anxiety over any chronic condition that they are being treated for.

An acupoint is specific point on the body where needle is inserted along a meridian line.  A meridian system is the system based on the belief that there’s a path through the body that gives us life energy. There are 12 different meridians that correlate with the organs of the body, for example, intestines, heart, stomach, etc. There are even certain points that have been shown to help with bladder frequency or urgency!

If a patient comes into the clinic with diagnosis of prostatitis, inflammation of prostate— the acupuncturist can find a point within a specific channel they are using, to clear heat (ie. Inflammation) within the organ.

There’s also evidence to suggest that acupuncture can assist with pelvic girdle pain for women who are pregnant. Personally, we have seen a lot of success with pregnant women who receive acupuncture in combination with pelvic floor physical therapy to relieve any sort of pelvic pain and discomfort!

To sum it up, the proof is in the pudding here at 5 Point – we believe that acupuncture is incredibly helpful as a part of a suite of practices in soothing and supporting the therapies that patients need to achieve optimal wellness. If those are side effects that come from believing in the process, that’s fine with us – as long as their health improves as a result, it works!

Post written by PT Erica Azzaretto.