Health Tips from UPMC Health Plan: A Healing Touch
There are ways to relieve pain and nausea through alternative medicine.
A growing number of patients are adding acupuncture and other alternative therapies to their medical care.
What is Alternative Medicine?
If you visit an acupuncturist or chiropractor, you’re seeking treatment in the field of complementary and alternative medicine — an increasingly mainstream tool for doctors.
“You don’t have to be a believer for it to work,” says Betty Liu, MD, a physician and acupuncture specialist at the UPMC Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. “I’ve seen dramatic reductions in pain and nausea — some instantaneous, some after multiple sessions.”
Who Uses It?
Patients frequently turn to acupuncture and other therapies to control pain, including arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, migraines, and spasms, or to ease nausea due to pregnancy or chemotherapy.
Integrating these therapies with conventional medicine can help patients find relief more quickly, or continue making progress toward their goals.
What are Some Treatments?
Acupuncture, one of the most popular therapies, uses thin needles to stimulate various points around the body. “We’re not certain how it works, but we know it releases endorphins, which act like opiates to relieve pain,” Dr. Liu says.
Massage therapy uses acupressure and deep tissue massage to increase blood flow to an injured area and release endorphins.
Chiropractic medicine adjusts the spine through manipulation to put the body into better alignment.