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How Acupuncture Relieves Pain

Inserting needles into the skin at peripheral sites (aka acupuncture points) “jumps” the neural threshold on the position nerve pathway, so that the signal can reach the brain. Once the brain recognizes there is pain and where it’s coming from it releases enkephalins (painkillers).

This initial response is very fast. It should be perceived as almost instantaneous by the patient. But after the needling therapy the patient goes home and the pain comes back. The old bad habit of the nerve chronically firing below the threshold re-establishes itself. The body, just like the mind, has a hard time breaking bad habits.

But if the patient returns in a couple of days to get another treatment, the neural threshold will be jumped again. And if you keep jumping the neural threshold, eventually the central and peripheral nervous system figures out that it’s better to operate in the non-pain state than in the pain state. The technical term for this is re-establishment of neurological homeostasis.

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