Pain or musculoskeletal complaints account for seven of the top ten conditions for which individuals use acupuncture, according to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey.  Acute and chronic pain syndromes, as some of society’s most costly health problems, have an enormous impact on individual, national, and global levels. In the United States, chronic pain is the third most common health-care problem, behind heart disease and cancer, with the combined annual costs of lost work days, doctor visits, hospital stays, pain-reducing drugs and disability totaling an estimated $100 billion. 

Acupuncture is best known for its ability to successfully manage and treat pain.  Although pain itself is not a diagnosis rather an indication or forewarning that a problem exists somewhere in the body.  More often the exact location of pain points to where the problem is, as in the case of lower back pain above a herniated disk. But in other situations, the site of pain may be related to problems distally, as in leg pain resulting from the same herniated disk pushing on a nerve in the back.

The intensity of the pain can usually indicate the severity of the problem and although each individual has a different pain threshold, pain levels that increase or do not lessen over time can point to a condition or problem that requires medical attention.

It is also important to understand the circumstances surrounding the onset of the pain. Was there an accident or incident, did the pain gradually develop over a course of time or during a certain period of life, is the pain better or worse during a particular time of day?  The characteristics of pain give important information about what is causing the body to send this signal. Once noticed, it is important to address the underlying problem not just turn down the discomfort. Otherwise the body will continue to send out other warning signals until the core problem is corrected.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), nothing within the human body can function independently. Pain is the body’s warning signal or alarm. It tells you something is wrong. If you ignore your body’s alarm, similarly to the fire alarm in your house, severe problems can form soon.