Treating Pain Without Medication – Part 3: Acupuncture


A lot of the press surrounding the opioid epidemic has focused on providing marijuana as an alternative solution.  While this idea is certainly to be considered with the sensationalism and controversy that marijuana brings to the media, other ideas and solutions have not been given as much attention.  While acupuncture itself is not a cure to chronic pain, there is a lot of medical evidence that acupuncture can help in both pain and the mental aspects that create perpetuation of chronic pain in brain.

A recent while paper published by A.F. Fan in the Journal of Integrative Medicine (, the author lays out the framework of how acupuncture can be used to solve the opioid epidemic.  One of the ways acupuncture is thought to work on pain is by stimulating the nerves that lower pain in our bodies.  Our nervous system in it wisdom has created a break on pain. Regular acupuncture can put the brakes on this pain.

Another aspect of acupuncture healing is its ability to work on the parasympathetic nervous system. It is believed that acupuncture stimulates the parasympathetic, rest and digest, part of our bodies.  This system helps to calm the effect stress has on our bodies.  Stress magnifies pain in our bodies, so by reducing stress and the chemicals it produces in our bodies we can reduce pain.

Another fascinating aspect of acupuncture and pain is that acupuncture is thought to create direct changes in the brain thought the nervous system.  Too much attention is often focused at the periphery when it comes to pain, but changes in our brain often perpetuate the chronic pain response. Techniques such have scalp acupuncture have shown emerging clinical evidence that acupuncture can create positive changes in different sensory and motor areas of the brain.

Acupuncture is certainly not a “cure all”.  These biggest downside of acupuncture is that it often takes a commitment to a good amount of visits to create a lasting change in your body when you have a condition that has been become chronic.  Despite what most have experienced in Western Medicine, the needles are extremely small and when inserted virtually pain free. Also, there are many different styles of acupuncture, so even if you have tried it before in the past and not been successful, it may be reasonable to try it again with another practitioner. Consider including acupuncture not only as another tool powerful at reducing pain circuits and energizing healing pathways in the body, but for personal and emotional self-care, as well.

Optimize Your Health, Simplify Your Life,

Dr Sharyl Truty MD


Sharyl Truty

Dr Sharyl Truty MD is board certified in Family Practice and Sports Medicine and has completed a physicians course at UCLA Helms Acupuncture Training and Certification as well as acupuncture training in China.  If you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr Sharyl Truty, please call 904.930.4774 and ask about the New Patient Special, 3 visits for $199, available at Balanced Physician Care.

Twitter: @DrTruty

Treating Pain without Medication – Part 2: Manual Therapy


Often the power of manual treatments is minimized for two reasons.  One reason a feeling of vulnerability that arises in having another person work on areas that are hurting.  The other often is cost because for many manual therapies to work effectively they need to be done over an extended period of time and on a regular basis. However, there are a wide variety of treatments to explore and often no matter what your budget you can find something that works for you.

Manual Treatments worth exploring:

  1. Massage – Most people are familiar with massage, but often time or expense is the biggest barrier. Massage is often most effective when done in a series of treatments.  A well-trained massage therapist has a wide variety of techniques at hand to relieve and release tight muscles. While I highly recommend getting a massage by professional whenever you can, if you are strapped for cash try a little self-massage with Arnica gel on a nightly basis.  If you’re really motivated you can even try an App” “Massage Techniques” which available for download to your IPhone for a small fee. 


  1. Cupping – Cupping received much attention with the 2016 Olympics with the help of Michael Phelps. If you are able to put aside the dark circle marks that form on the skin with this treatment, it is actually excellent at alleviating muscle spam and tension. We offer cupping as an add-on to the acupuncture treatments we provide in our office, but home kits can be bought for those who find this treatment helpful and want to continue its use at home. 


  1. Scraping – Scraping is a manual technique that originated in Chinese medicine, but has found its way into massage and physical therapy. The “ATSYM” treatment that many physical therapists use to help tendon repair really has its origins in the scraping technique perfected by the Chinese. This technique uses the edge of a ceramic spoon to “work” the tendon areas.    This is also is a great self-treatment technique that can be taught for self-care and can help to breakup stubborn knotted tendon.


  1. Reflexology – Reflexology is the application of pressure to certain points in the body that seem to influence other areas of the body. This concept has been around for centuries and is often used in acupuncture, as well. Often reflexology is done in combination with other treatments such as massage, but it is also a great treatment that can be done on your own at home.  Seek out a practitioner familiar with the various reflexology maps on the body and have them show you different techniques to get these areas of the body working for you. 


  1. Reiki/Healing Touch – This is a more alternative manual technique that is really good for people who are sensitive to touch or whose pain has caused them to be hypersensitive. It is considered an energy-based treatment similar to acupuncture, but without needles. Practitioners consciously use their hands in an intentional way during a treatment that in theory manipulates the magnetic field around the body. 


  1. Rolfing – This is a more alternative manual technique in which the practioners work to manipulate the body’s fascial layers and combine this with active and passive movement retraining. If fascial layers are tight this can have some painful moments, but often people who respond well feel a satisfying release and subsequent improvement in their arc of movement in restricted areas.


  1. TENS Units – There are a variety of handheld units that deliver a wave or pulse therapy though pads that are attached to the skin. Through mechanisms not fully understood this pulse treatment appears to help dampen an overactive pain response and allow muscles to heal.  Home units are often available by prescription from your physician or physical therapist.


  1. Manipulation Therapy – Manipulation therapy actually can be done by a variety of providers. Most commonly chiropractic physicians come to mind first, but there are a variety of other providers who do manual manipulation as well including osteopathic physicians and physical therapists. I often encourage people to try a wide variety of different manual therapists, so experience different techniques to find the one that is right for them.

Optimize Your Health, Simplify Your Life,

Dr Sharyl Truty MD


Sharyl Truty

Dr. Sharyl has been engaged in family medicine, sports medicine and orthopedics for over fifteen years in many different capacities. She is the physician-owner of Balanced Physician Care, a holistic, direct primary care medical practice in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  Her practice provides a unique solution for individuals and small business owners who are seeking answers to better healthcare.  She is Board Certified in Family Practice and has a Certificate of Added Qualification in Sports Medicine.  She was team physician for the Chicago Red Stars women’s professional soccer team, completed a fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, and has received her acupuncture training at the UCLA physician certification program. She currently lives in Jacksonville Beach with her husband, Myke and 4-year-old son, Lukas.



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