According to a 2007 survey, approximately 38% of people age 18 and over report using some form of alternative medicine, including various forms of acupuncture. In a time of highly stressed and overworked employees, acupuncture may offer a solution to millions of people afflicted with chronic pain. Employers are encouraged to educate their employees about the benefits and risks involved in acupuncture as an alternative form of pain relief.
What is acupuncture and how does it work?
Acupuncture has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Traditional belief states that ill health is a result of the improper flow of energy around the body. According to the theory, the body contains two elements – the yin (cold and passive energy) and the yang (hot and active energy). To maintain good health, both the yin and the yang must be balanced. In the event of any imbalance, the energy flow around the body – the chi – becomes blocked. Needles are pierced through affected areas of the body to unblock energy paths – known as meridians – and allow balance to be restored. Traditional practitioners believe acupuncture can be used to cure pain and many forms of disease.
Western medicine practitioners, however, believe that acupuncture stimulates nerves, tissue and muscles, increasing blood flow and natural pain relief to the affected areas. They do not see the procedure as a way to cure disease. They will often use acupuncture in addition to conventional, Western medicine, offering an affective alternative to pain relief.
Benefits and risks
Medical studies show that acupuncture is an affective method for relieving pain and nausea from numerous conditions and diseases. Many studies prove its effectiveness in relieving chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, pain in fibromyalgia, migraines, varicose veins, carpal tunnel, and as a way to stimulate weight loss. It may also benefit other conditions including, headaches, labor pain, low back pain, osteoarthritis, dental pain, and tennis elbow.
Many chronic conditions and diseases are associated with chronic pain, and the cost to control it is often very expensive. Acupuncture can offer an alternative solution to pain relief often in just a few sessions, without prescription medicines. Many insurance policies also cover the cost of sessions or provide significant discounts.
Like any other medical procedure or drug, acupuncture also involves risks. Some minor risks include soreness, minor bleeding or bruising, and infections. In rare cases, organ injury or Hepatitis B may occur from infected needles. These risks are greatly reduced with the use of qualified and licensed practitioners. Individuals with bleeding disorders, pacemakers, or women who are pregnant may also experience greater complications.
Let your employees decide
Many employees in your company may be experiencing chronic pain due to stress or health conditions. As part of your wellness program, provide them information on acupuncture as an alternative to conventional medicine. Include the following steps:
• Provide employees with informational pamphlets – Many local clinics and hospitals can supply your company with additional information on the field. Give all employees the opportunity to get educated on the subject.
• Informational session with a practitioner – Find local licensed practitioners who would provide on-site information sessions to answer employee questions.
• Provide acupuncture sessions at the office for interested employees – Some practitioners are willing to provide on-site complimentary or reduced priced session for anyone who’s interested. Contact reputable ones in your area.
The bottom line
Acupuncture may be a good solution for many employees dealing with chronic pain associated with stress and health conditions. As any procedure, there are both benefits and risks involved. Giving employees the resources and exposure to the subject will allow them to make an educated decision about their pain relief and overall wellness.