Acupuncture, an Effective Way to Treat Pain

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Acupuncture has amazed many people in the Western world, but it can sometimes seem confusing: how can tiny needles work so well and treat patients in a way a professionally trained physiotherapist can’t? Dr. Kathy Feng, Qi Herbs and Acupuncture Treatment Center owner and Registered Chinese Medicine and Acupuncturist Practitioner, will share her insight on the mechanisms of Traditional Chinese Medicine by answering common questions asked by patients.

What illnesses benefit most from acupuncture?  

Acupuncture is very effective in treating body pain, such as:

  • Pain in the knees
  • Lower back pain
  • Chronic back pain
  • Hip pain
  • Referral pain by other internal illnesses
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sciatic nerve pain
  • Elbow pain from tennis, golf, etc.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Meniscus tear symptoms
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Hypochondriac pain, etc.

What are the causes of pain in terms of TCM?

In TCM, we believe that the combination of the external environment and the body’s internal environment are combined, causing cold, heat or dampness. These are indicators of body pain, no matter what its original cause may be, according to TCM. 

  • Cold: If a cold pathogen (usually a virus or a bacteria) from one’s environment attacks the body and remains inside, the patient will experience difficulty in sweating. The pain will be tight and can temporarily be relieved by a hot pad. 
  • Heat: If heat pathogens stay inside the body, patients will feel a burning pain, further aggravated by a hot pad. 
  • Dampness: The dampness from the external environment will cause dampness in your body. Patients will feel very tired and heavy and sometimes these pathogens can be accompanied by edema or swelling.

How does TCM  diagnose pain?

In the master book “Treaties on Cold Damage Disease ” written by Zhongjing Zhang 2000 years ago, Zhang explains that body pain is triggered by several complications. The following methods are used to diagnose illnesses in TCM:

  • Organ differentiation
  • Six Evils differentiation
  • Eight Branch differentiation
  • Six Channel differentiation 


In our clinic, for most cases, we use Six Channel differentiation, because we witnessed a higher success rate from this diagnosis method. There are numerous symptoms that can help us tell identify the pain:

  1. Taiyang (yang) and Shaoyin (yin): The Meridians at the most exterior level of the body, where its vital energy (Qi) fights with exogenous intruders at the surface level, are affected. The latter is what causes body pain, muscle soreness, fever (temperature will be slightly higher), fear of the cold, and this may be accompanied by coughing. 
  2. Shaoyang (yang) and Jueyin (yin): The affected part of the Meridians are half on the exterior level while the other half is on the interior level. Body vital energy (Qi) strategically retreats to the space between the surface of body and organs, because of insufficiency of Blood and Qi at the exterior level. The battle causes a bit of a fever, a bitter taste in your mouth, thristiness, sore throat, vomiting, a change in appetite, fatigue and shortness of breath, and this may be accompanied by coughing. 
  3. Yangming (yang) and Taiyin (yin): These symptoms are at the interior level. Body fluid is dissipated because of the previous battle or original body constitution, meanwhile, the body’s vital energy (Qi) has to retreat to the core for protection of the most essential physiological functions. At this level, patients manifest high fever or fear of cold, great fatigue, difficulty with defecation or diarrhea, changes in urination and high levels of abdominal distention. 


The Yin and Yangs mentioned in these three battles is the most essential concept of TCM: everything contains the Yin and the Yang. The warship between body vital energy and exogenous intruder has a Yin and Yang aspect to it. Yang represents the manifestation of symptoms which are more related to heat, movement, tightness, and activity. Yin is the opposite figure. The three levels and Yin-Yang, build up our “Six Channel Differentiation”, the underlying rationale of diagnosis in TCM with the most effectiveness.

Why is acupuncture a very effective treatment for body pain?

Acupuncture is the method that regulates the human body’s meridians and channels for the qi flow. Compared to internal organs, meridians and channels belong to the external body. No matter the origins of the pain, TCM says that all types of pain are due to an external factor. Thus, acupuncture is the perfect method to treat common pain.

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