Described below is one of the many approaches I've tried or considered trying for healing my chronic myofascial pain:
*UPDATED JANUARY 2018*
BOTTOM LINE: Tried briefly; it aggravated my pain.
Many people have told me that acupuncture cured them of their pain. I didn't try it until 2017 (twelve years into my pain). I hadn't tried acupuncture for a few reasons: (1) I don’t like the thought of getting stuck with needles even though I’d been reassured that they are very fine needles that are barely perceptible; (2) right before I was about to try it, when nothing else was working, I found the John F. Barnes method of myofascial release (JFB-MFR), which was the first treatment that significantly reduced my pain for a sustained period of time; and (3) JFB-MFR helped me discover that my pain was tied to past emotional trauma and that in order for my body to heal, I needed to address both emotional and physical aspects of my pain. Therefore, I decided not to spend money on acupuncture when I had already found something so effective.
The idea of needles makes me bristle. Thus, I tend to steer away from anything that at the mere mention of it causes my muscles to tense. Of course years earlier I allowed myself to get stuck with a needle when I was incredibly desperate for pain relief. If I hadn't found so much relief through JFB-MFR, I suspect I would have put aside my distaste for needles to try acupuncture.
However, since I was still not fully healed, in the fall of 2017 I finally tried acupuncture. I knew that it has helped many. Whether or not it is a placebo effect, I cannot say, but I believe that it probably can help deactivate trigger points (TrPs) (which is supported in an article by Findley, 2013 in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for Myofascial Pain which states: “Over 70% of TrPs correspond to acupuncture points used to treat pain”), as well as help balance the energy flows throughout the body.
But since past TrP injections only temporarily deactivated my TrPs, and because I didn't know if acupuncture would also help me process and resolve my past trauma, I hadn't tried it. I had stuck with what had worked best so far.
However, I had also learned about “Five Element acupuncture” and how it can address the mind, body, and spirit and can trigger emotions. Therefore, I thought it might be something worth pursuing, so in 2017 when I was still living with chronic pain, I searched for a Five Element acupuncturist. When I couldn't find one, I decided to try acupuncture anyway. I had moved to a new state and my new doctor suggested I try it along with MFR, since I'd had some success with the MFR.
The acupuncture ended up spiking up my pain. I went four times. The first two times I was stuck in places besides my neck and I felt okay afterwards. The second two times I was stuck in my neck area and my pain got worse. I confess I did have a small amount of extra energy for a couple of hours after the second and third sessions, but after my pain spiked for a solid six weeks, I decided it wasn't worth paying money just to increase my pain.
Maybe if I made sure they didn't stick my neck, and that they were Five Element acupuncturist, it would have been okay. I don't necessarily discredit acupuncture. Maybe the right practitioner would make a difference. But I didn't feel it was worth the time, energy, or money to figure that out. (Click here to read my blog post about my acupuncture experience.)