By Kimberly N. Alleyne • • August 3, 2008
Some autoimmune diseases can wreak havoc on joints and muscles and leave patients in unrelenting pain. Some individuals afflicted with multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis or chronic pain have found respite in a tried-and-true practice -acupuncture.
Acupuncture is a Chinese medicine approach that employs needles placed at various points on the body to restore balance to the forces of yin and yang.
Don Plunkett, 65, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 24 years ago, and says acupuncture helped him a great deal.
"It doesn't cure it, but I got a lot of relief with it and it helped to steady my movements," Plunkett said.
That's been a huge help in his continued success in the air rifle competition at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, Plunkett said.uncture and Healing Center in LaGrange, is not surprised Plunkett found relief for his pain through acupuncture.
"I have treated several clients with lupus, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, and acupuncture has either greatly helped their symptoms; I don't want to say it cures them, but many of them become 95 percent pain free or symptom free," Wolfe said.
Many have touted acupuncture as a complementary healing modality to assist in the treatment of autoimmune diseases and chronic pain. It is a major form of complementary and alternative medicine - a body of practices, products and strategies that are not part of conventional medicine.
Typically, complementary medicine such as acupuncture, massage or tai chi is used with conventional medicine to treat diseases, while alternative forms of medicine such as naturopathic and homeopathic approaches are used instead of conventional medicine.
Research has found that when used in conjunction with medication, acupuncture can produce great results. Wolfe agrees.
"It's a fantastic tool. When we use a natural approach such as acupuncture along with pain medication, we help the body to run more smoothly and get physically well," Wolfe said.
Wolfe attributes the success of acupuncture to its approach.
"The Western approach to medicine suppresses the immune system, which makes it weaker. Chinese medicine does the opposite and powers and strengthens the body so it can heal itself," Wolfe said.
According to Wolfe, clients can expect to see improvement in six or seven sessions, depending on the severity of pain.
He warns those seeking out acupuncture services to be sure they find a licensed professional. Wolfe, who is a nationally and state board certified acupuncturist, said to be sure the professional has significant education and experience.
"Every two years, I have to get recertified by the state and by the national board every four years. It's important to have the schooling, too," Wolfe said.
Freelance writer Kimberly N. Alleyne