To expand the breadth of treatment options offered to her patients, Dr. Kiran V. Patel completed training in medical acupuncture at Harvard Medical School and Brigham Women’s Hospital. She is certified by the State Medical board of New York to practice Medical Acupuncture and performs it in both our Manhattan and New Hyde Park (Long Island) offices. Currently, Dr. Patel is the only physician in our Practice to perform medical acupuncture to treat chronic pain.
How it Works
Medical acupuncture involves the insertion of tiny needles in key locations of the body — or acupressure. It is a valid medical tool that can change a person’s energy, or “chi,” from within. It does not involve the injection of any medication. It’s not a therapy that necessarily means a lifetime commitment. Everything depends on the patient’s response and the doctor’s ability to understand the patient and his or her history.
It has been established that neurotransmitters in the body, called endorphins, decrease a patient’s perception of pain. Endorphins are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus in vertebrates, in response not only to pain, but to exercise, excitement, consumption of spicy food and love. Endorphins resemble opiates in their ability to produce a feeling of well-being. In fact, the word “endorphins” comes from shortened versions of the words “endogenous” and “morphine,” which when put together mean “a morphine-like substance originating from within the body.
For example, if you suffer from lower back pain — when a nerve impulse reaches the spinal cord, the body will respond by releasing endorphins designed to prevent nerve cells from releasing more pain signals. With acupuncture, a patient’s natural endorphin levels significantly go up. Although data is still so small that hard scientific conclusions can’t be drawn, acupuncture may help elevate the production or effect of endorphins for up to a few days.
Acupuncture in and of itself may not be enough for many patients, but when combined with other therapies — many that have nothing to do with opioid pharmaceuticals that are great in certain situations, but sometimes abused — a patient’s quality of life can usually be significantly improved.
To Learn More
If you are interested in an evaluation into the cause of your pain, or if medical acupuncture is the right treatment option for you to help manage your pain, please contact our pain management experts at The Spine and Pain Institute of New York. We would be happy to make an appointment for a consultation and provide additional information about other treatment options.