Scottsdale Acupuncture


Can Acupuncture Relieve Stress at Work?

Posted Thursday, July 14th, 2016 by

work, stress, acupuncture

Acupuncture is a component of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and it has become popular in the United States as a form of alternative medicine.  It involves inserting sterile, small, very fine needles under the skin at various points in the body.  Alternative medical practitioners indicate acupuncture as a therapy for a wide variety of physical conditions and also to improve emotional well-being.  Anecdotal evidence supports the use of acupuncture for everything from pain relief to lessening anxiety to improving the success rates of fertility treatments.  A review by Ernst and Edzard et al. [Link] of scientific studies conducted on the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating various medical conditions shows that it can be an effective for many conditions, particularly when used in conjunction with other treatments.  Here are some things to consider if you are thinking of using acupuncture to reduce workplace stress.

The Theory Behind Acupuncture

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are acupuncture points below the skin in certain areas of the body that are receptive to stimulation by acupuncture needles.  Certain acupuncture points are associated with the relief of certain symptoms.  They are located along lines known as meridians, and they are usually at points where nerves and muscles or bones and muscles intersect. [Link]  Because of the network of nerves and connective tissues involved, some acupuncture points are located a considerable distance from the organs of the body they are believed to affect.  For example, the P6 (Pericardium 6) acupuncture point, which is very important for acupuncture treatment of nausea, is located on the wrist. [Link]

Traditional Chinese Medicine describes the body’s response to acupuncture [Link] as being similar to the resolution of a traffic jam in the body’s system of nerves.  Western medicine explains this response as being the result of the release of endorphins in the brain, leading to pain relief and feelings of emotional relaxation.

How can acupuncture help relieve stress at work?

The United States has a reputation for being a nation of workaholics.   According to Business Insider, white collar employees in the United States spend more hours per week at work than employees in similar professions in almost any other country in the world. [Link]  Employees are stressed out and wishing for, if not actively seeking, a better work-life balance.  Copious amounts of free time are not a possibility for most workers, so taking care of physical and mental health despite their busy schedules is the best option for a lot of busy people.

Gyms and fitness classes at work are becoming increasingly common, and companies treating their employees to therapeutic massages are not unheard of.  Could acupuncture be the next trend in the pursuit of workplace well-being?  Perhaps it should be.  According to Everyday Health, acupuncture is an effective treatment for stress and anxiety. [Link]  Patients who experience severe or chronic anxiety usually combine acupuncture with one or more other treatments, such as anti-anxiety medicines or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).  If your company is not big enough to cover hiring an in-house acupuncture therapist for your employees, you may consider looking into options for having your company’s health insurance or flexible spending benefits cover acupuncture treatments.  If you are an employee considering acupuncture to relieve your workplace anxiety, ask your benefits office or acupuncturist about insurance benefits for acupuncture.  According to Acufinder, an online resource for acupuncture patients and therapists, many insurance companies offer at least some insurance coverage for acupuncture treatments. [Link]

Are there any risks associated with acupuncture?

One of the reasons that some patients turn to acupuncture for relief of stress and anxiety is that the risk of side effects is lower than for some medicines used to treat psychiatric conditions.  The factor that makes people hesitant to try acupuncture, however, is that it involves needles, even though the needles involved in acupuncture are very thin, and many patients hardly even feel them.  As with any treatment that involves needles, if the needles become contaminated or are used multiples times there is a potential risk of transmission of blood borne pathogens.  Cases of hepatitis have been transmitted by contaminated acupuncture needles, and bacterial infections have also resulted from the use of improperly cleaned acupuncture equipment. [Link]  If you have an acupuncture treatment in the United States, though, you have little reason to worry about infections resulting from acupuncture equipment.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that acupuncture needles be discarded after a single use, which is the same requirement as for needles and syringes used to administer injections. [Link]


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