Harvard Women's Health Watch

Needling away chronic pain

Research finds that acupuncture is an effective pain reliever.

When you're hurting, you might not necessarily think of getting relief from a needle stick—let alone several needle sticks. Yet research is finding that acupuncture—the traditional Chinese medicine practice of placing needles into the skin at strategic points throughout the body—is an effective way to ease some types of chronic pain.

"There are a lot of data showing that acupuncture is effective at reducing pain in many chronic conditions, such as back pain, neck pain, headache, and even fibromyalgia," says Dr. Lucy Chen, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and attending physician in the department of Anesthesia, Critical Care, and Pain Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

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