Acupuncture for Pain & Sports Injury

 Acupuncture for back pain and sports injury

Pain and sports injuries  such as tennis elbow, knee pain, back pain bring many people to an Acupuncture clinic. Most of us can expect to suffer from pain at some point in our lives. The good news is that Acupuncture may offer some effective treatment for many chronic and acute conditions. It has been shown to be effective for the treatment of a number of conditions including neck pain, low back pain, shoulder pain, tennis elbow, knee osteoarthritis, TMJ pain etc (McDonald and Janz, 2016).

Acupuncture For Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is a major reason that people will seek treatment at our clinic. This is reflected in the broader public, as 1 in 5 Australians live with chronic pain at any one time. Over the age of 65, it is 1 in 3 Australians who are affected. This statistic is expected to increase as the population ages (1). The use of acupuncture in the treatment of chronic pain has a body of evidence to support its effectiveness.

Does Acupuncture help with Pain?

  • Yuan et. al. (2016) assessed the effectiveness of  acupuncture in pain reduction for a number of conditions including neck pain, shoulder pain, low back pain, osteoarthritis, temporomandibular joint pain, fibromayalgia and rheumatic arthritis. This study found a moderate pain reduction for musculoskeletal pain and acupuncture was more effective than sham acupuncture in the treatment of chronic neck pain, shoulder pain, temporomandibular joint pain. It found no difference between the fibromyalgia groups when compared to sham acupuncture and for the other groups there was insufficient evidence.


  • Vickers and Linde (2014) again reported upon whether or not there were benefits of acupuncture in the management of pain. It found acupuncture is associated with improved pain outcomes  when compared to no acupuncture or sham acupuncture.


  • Liu et. al. (2015) conducted an overview of a number of systematic reviews and found that "systematic reviews of variable quality showed that acupuncture, either used in isolation or as an adjunct to conventional therapy, provides short-term improvements in pain and function for chronic LBP".


  • The  Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association recently released a literature review of the conditions that acupuncture can be useful in treating. It found strong evidence for acupuncture in the treatment of chronic low back pain, chronic headache, knee osteoarthritis and post operative pain. It also found moderate evidence supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture for cancer pain, lateral elbow pain (tennis elbow), neck pain, plantar heel pain, post stroke shoulder pain, sciatica, shoulder impingement syndrome (frozen shoulder) and Temporomandibular pain (TMJ).

How Does Acupuncture Help With Pain?

There are many different theories and mechanisms that can be used to help explain how acupuncture may work in the treatment of pain. Below we have presented a few possible mechanisms that have been investigated by researchers: 

Acupuncture releases natural painkillers

  • Needle insertion sends a signal through the nervous system to the brain, where chemicals such as endorphins and other neurotransmitters including adenosine has anti pain perception qualities. These substances provide pain relief in the body by changing how the brain and spinal cord processes pain (2) (3) (4) (5) (6).

Acupuncture reduces the intensity and perception of pain

  • by modulating the limbic-paralimbic-neocortical network which is an intrinsic  neural circuit that mediates the affective and cognitive dimensions of pain (7);

Acupuncture reduces inflammation

  • it does this by promoting the release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (8) (9);

Acupuncture relaxes tight muscles and reduces swelling

  • improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility by increasing local microcirculation (10), which aids dispersal of swelling.

Acupuncture may reduce anxiety

  • Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, while acupuncture can activate the opposing parasympathetic nervous system, which initiates the relaxation response (11).


Our Melbourne Acupuncture Clinic

When working with you and your pain we may ask how long you have had this issue, what makes it worse or better, is there any restricted movement and some other questions about the injury or pain. We will then review other aspects of your health like your  activities, sleep quality, aches and pains, your cycle (if relevant) and energy levels. After palpating your pulse and/or abdomen,  we then decide upon a course of treatment that we will discuss with you. At Coburg Chinese medicine we support an integrative and inclusive approach to treatment.

Based in Melbourne, the  Coburg Clinic services people from Coburg and surrounding Northern suburbs such as Brunswick, Pascoe Vale, Preston, Fawkner, Thornbury, Northcote.  If you wish to discuss how acupuncture can assist you call us on 03 9041 656

Call us on ☎ (03) 9041 6569 to arrange an appointment or book online below



1. Pain Australia. (2018). Painful Facts. Retrieved 15 January 2017, from

2. Pomeranz B. Scientific basis of acupuncture. In: Stux G, Pomeranz B, eds. Acupuncture Textbook and Atlas. Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag; 1987: 1-18.

3. Zhao ZQ.  Neural mechanism underlying acupuncture analgesia. Prog Neurobiol. 2008;  85: 355-75.

4. Zhou Q et al. The effect of electro-acupuncture on the imbalance between monoamine neurotransmitters and GABA in the CNS of rats with chronic emotional stress-induced anxiety. Int J Clin Acupunct2008 ;17: 79-84.

5. Lee B et al. Effects of acupuncture on chronic corticosterone-induced depression-like behavior and expression of neuropeptide Y in the rats. Neuroscience Letters 2009; 453: 151-6.

5. Cheng CH et al. Endogenous Opiates in the Nucleus Tractus Solitarius Mediate Electroacupuncture-induced Sleep Activities in Rats. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2009 Sep 3.

6. Goldman N  et al. Adenosine A1 receptors mediate local anti-nociceptive effects of acupuncture. Nat Neurosci 2010 May 30.
Han JS. Acupuncture and endorphins. Neurosci Lett 2004; 361: 258-61.

. Hui K.K.-S. The salient characteristics of the central effects of acupuncture needling: limbic-paralimbic-neocortical network modulation. Human Brain Mapping 2009; 30: 1196-206.

8. Kavoussi B, Ross BE. The neuroimmune basis of anti-inflammatory acupuncture. Integr Cancer Ther 2007;  6:  251-7.

. Zijlstra FJ et al. Anti-inflammatory actions of acupuncture. Mediators Inflamm 2003; 12: 59-69.

10. omori M et al. Microcirculatory responses to acupuncture stimulation and phototherapy. Anesth Analg 2009; 108: 635-40.

11. rranz L et al. Effect of acupuncture treatment on the immune function impairment found in anxious women. American Journal of Chinese Medicine.  2007;35(1):35-51

12. McDonald, John & Janz, Stephen. (2016). The Acupuncture Evidence Project : A Comparative Literature Review (Revised). Australian Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Association Ltd, Coorparoo

Vickers, A. J., & Linde, K. (2014). Acupuncture for chronic pain. JAMA : The Journal of the American Medical Association311(9), 955–956.

Yuan, Q.L, Wang, P., Liu, L., Sun, F., Cai, Y.S., Wu, W.T., Ye, M.L., Ma, J.T., Xu, B.B., & Zhang Y.G. (2016). Acupuncture for musculoskeletal pain: A meta-analysis and meta-regression of sham controlled randomized clinical trials. Scientific Reports. 6. 

Liu, L., Skinner, M., McDonough, S., Mabire, L., & Baxter, G. D. (2015). Acupuncture for Low Back Pain: An Overview of Systematic Reviews. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM2015, 328196.