How Acupuncture Works for Acute and Chronic Pain

“So how does acupuncture work?” This course provides acupuncturists with an overview of the acupuncture analgesia research to enable them to communicate more effectively with patients, other health practitioners and the community at large when asked that question – “So how does acupuncture work?”

How Acupuncture Works for Acute and Chronic Pain

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Learn at your own pace
1:30 hours 
On-Demand Video
Course Handout
Certificate On Completion

What you will learn

  • Draw clinically relevant lessons from the research, such as
    • The need for adequate frequency and duration of treatment sessions to achieve lasting neuromodulation.
    • That acupuncture appears to be at least as effective as IV Morphine in treating acute pain.
    • That there is a small number of people who are non-responders to acupuncture analgesia (AA) who need to be referred to other therapies.
  • Communicate more effectively with patients, other health practitioners and the community at large when asked that question – “So how does acupuncture work?”
  • Overview of the acupuncture analgesia research.

Course Overview

“So how does acupuncture work?”

Acupuncture has been found to be effective for numerous types of acute and chronic pain. One of the striking characteristics of acupuncture’s effects on chronic pain is the longevity of the effects, with chronic pain patients 12 months after the last acupuncture session experiencing 85 -90% of the pain relief they felt on the day of their last treatment. This appears to be associated with lasting modulation of the peripheral and central nervous system – neuroplasticity.

This course provides acupuncturists with an overview of the acupuncture analgesia research to enable them to communicate more effectively with patients, other health practitioners and the community at large when asked that question – “So how does acupuncture work?”

Research on the physiological mechanisms underpinning acupuncture’s analgesic effects began with investigation of the neurological pathways taken by the acupuncture-induced signal. Carried principally on Aδ and C sensory fibres the acupuncture signal from the acupuncture point was found to ascend to the brain and brain stem where a complex series of interactions between nuclei dubbed the “mesolimbic loop of acupuncture analgesia” occurred followed by a descending signal to the dorsal horn of the spine, activating the Pain Gate. With the discovery that the body produces its own endogenous opioids, attention turned next to exploring the various categories of endogenous opioids – enkephalins, endorphins, dynorphins and endomorphins. Dozens of non-opioid mediators were also identified as participating in acupuncture analgesia (AA), some acting to enhance AA, some to inhibit AA, and others to selectively enhance or inhibit. As well as further research on both opioid and non-opioid mediators, researchers have more recently turned their attention to identifying the receptor interactions and signalling pathways involved in AA. Adenosine activating adenosine receptors at the needling site has been found to be essential for AA.

The types of pain for which research has found acupuncture to be effective include inflammatory pain and neuropathic pain, musculoskeletal pain, headaches and migraines, gynaecological/obstetric pain, post-surgical pain and some types of cancer-related pain.

This course is approved by:

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2 Hours | Group 1
Please Raed
1.5 CPD

Course Reviews:

real application

Rated 5.0 out of 5
January 13, 2024

Very eye opening with real application in private practice.

Thank you

Aja Ngo

an informative, evidence-based explanation

Rated 5.0 out of 5
March 29, 2021

Thank you John for an informative, evidence-based explanation of how acupuncture works from a neurophysiology perspective in relation to pain management.

George Dellas
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NCCAOM PDA Course Participant Attestation

By registering for this course, I agree to abide by the NCCAOM PDA Course Participant Attestation.

I understand that the information in this course presented by the Provider and/or Instructor(s) is for educational purposes only and should only be applied with appropriate clinical judgment and used by a trained and licensed
practitioner. Governmental laws and regulations vary from region to region and the contents of this course vary in permissible usage. The participant is required to check their local, state, and federal laws and regulations regarding the practice requirements and scope of practice issues and the use of the information of this course including, but not limited to, theory, herbal medicine, and acupuncture. I acknowledge that NCCAOM does not endorse any specific treatment regimens of any kind. Furthermore, if I use any modalities or treatments taught in this course, I agree to waive, release, indemnify, discharge, and covenant not to sue NCCAOM from and against any liability, claims, demands, or causes of action whatsoever, arising out of any injury, loss, or damage that a person may sustain related to the use of the information in this course. I understand that this Release is governed by the laws of District of Columbia, U.S.A. and shall survive the termination or expiration of this course.

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We encourage you to return to courses as learning continues; in each view, we learn and understand new things.


Unless otherwise stated, CEU/PDA/CPD requirements must be completed within 1 year of the purchase. You are advised to print and save your certificate for your records and under your association requirements.

Dimploamtes of NCCAOM & Floridas members need to fill in a form after completing their courses for us to submit the points. CAB & Fachverband members need to write to us an email upon completing their courses to get the required documents. Look for our email after the completion of the course.

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Course Includes

  • 1:30 Hours Course Duration
  • Course Certificate
  • Course Credits

    AACMA Image AACMA1.5 CPD's
    ACI Image ACICertificate
    AGTCM Image AGTCMCertificate
    Fachverband Image TCM FACHVERBAND2 Hours
    Acupuncture NZ Image ACUPUNCTURE NZCertificate
    NZASA Image NZASACertificate

    For further infomation see the course description

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