Research Topic

Mechanisms of Pain Management in Acupuncture Therapy

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Acupuncture has been widely used for more than 2400 years in China and is well-known for its effects on pain management. When used to treat pain such as lower back pain, muscular pain, muscle strain pain, and joint pain, the pain relief can be almost instantaneous. Nowadays, many experts choose acupuncture to ...

Acupuncture has been widely used for more than 2400 years in China and is well-known for its effects on pain management. When used to treat pain such as lower back pain, muscular pain, muscle strain pain, and joint pain, the pain relief can be almost instantaneous. Nowadays, many experts choose acupuncture to treat pain in cancer. Although acupuncture was also chosen to treat different kinds of diseases such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), and depression, the pain relief effect of acupuncture is more instant, reliable and repeatable. In the clinic, it can be observed that once the combinations of acupuncture points were effective, the pain sensitivity would decrease in some cases in seconds. Twenty years ago, Jisheng Han found that electrical stimulation by electrical acupuncture on Zu San Li -a regular acupuncture point near the knee, led the brain to produce more endorphin, which had a powerful analgesic activity. The rapid analgesic activity of acupuncture suggests that acupuncture has a special and effective neurologic circuit pathway. Simple needling in acupuncture points may result in specific response via neurological pathways including sensory nerve fibers, spinal dorsal horn, autonomous nervous system, and brain. Recently, with the neurological research techniques drastically progressing, scientists can instantly observe the activities of the nervous system in vivo by combining optogenetics and Adeno Associated Virus related gene editing in animal model, which sheds lights to acupuncture research. It will provide new opportunities for researchers in acute mechanism in acupuncture.

This Research Topic encourages scientists and doctors to submit their contributions in neurological circuit related to pain management in acupuncture by utilizing the most cutting-edge technologies in neuroscience and traditional animal behavior experiments. The newly discovered acupuncture methods are also welcomed. This topic focuses on studies about the specific signals and its particular transmission pathway in pain relief. For example, how do neurons instantly respond to needling, which populations of neurons would be active to specific needling, which signal pathways will be activated during needling, and which pathways for both afferent and efferent signals underlie the needling effect. Pharmacological studies related to the acupuncture pain relief are also welcome.


Keywords: Acupuncture, Pain, Neurological Mechanism, Molecular Mechanism


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