What Can Acupuncture Treat?

“What can acupuncture treat other than pain?” is a question I often get.  Acupuncture treatment is often thought of as an option for pain, and for some people, only when all other options run out. Often when I meet people and they find out I’m an acupuncturist, the first thing they say is, “I don’t know why I would come to see you, I don’t have any pain.”  After further conversation, it will come down to two things; 1.) They don’t know the myriad of symptoms that acupuncture can effectively treat, or  2.) They want to be assured that the needles won’t hurt.

— Lisa Francolini, L.Ac., owner of RiverWest Acupuncture, Portland, Oregon

What can Acupuncture treat?   More than just pain.

In China, acupuncturists are Primary Care doctors.  As a result, the “scope” of what acupuncture can treat opens up dramatically.  We also find in China, the floors of hospitals are segregated between floors based on medicine practice.  Allopathic medicine, or “Western Medicine” as we know it, and the acupuncture floors where the same symptoms and diseases are treated with Traditional Chinese Medicine, to include, acupuncture, qi-gong, herbs, etc….  Under that model, acupuncture can be used for anything.

While acupuncture CAN be used to treat any disease, most practitioners in this country pass on some treatment protocols. Cancer, for example. Most practitioners do not want to treat cancer.  There are some that specialize in cancer treatment, with admirable results. It is more common is to find practitioners that treat the side effects of cancer treatment — for example, the nausea, exhaustion, and insomnia that can accompany chemo treatments.

Curative and palliative acupuncture treatment.

The question of “What can acupuncture treat?” gets divided into two categories; curative and palliative.  Acupuncture cures some conditions, and it simply helps to manage other symptoms and conditions. For example, if you haven’t been exercising for a while and then you over exert yourself, you may end up with joint pain or muscle spasm due to overuse. Acupuncture can decrease the inflammation, and release the muscle tension to relieve the pain. Thus, you are cured until you go out and over exert yourself again. This is curative.

However, if you have pain because of arthritis, acupuncture isn’t going to cure the arthritis, but it can help reduce and then manage the pain, increase range of motion, and possibly reduce your reliance on pain medication. Or it could either prolong or eliminate the need for a hip replacement.  This is palliative.

Below is a list that is not comprehensive, but intended to educate on the range of conditions or symptoms that acupuncture can effectively address.

Pain Management Learn More

  • All muscular-skeletal pain
  • Pain from herniated disc
  • Pain due to sprains, contusions, or fractures
  • Sciatica
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headache
  • Migraine
  • Neuropathy
  • Tendonitis
  • Bursitis
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Frozen shoulder syndrome
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • TMJ
  • Postoperative surgical pain

Auto Injuries Learn More

  • Whiplash
  • Nausea
  • Equilibrium Concerns
  • Insomnia
  • Inability to Focus
  • Irritability
  • Chronic Pain
  • Stress and Anxiety

 Women’s Health (OB/GYN)Learn More

  • Amenorrhea (Absence of Menstruation)
  • Dysmenorrhea (Menstrual Pain/Cramps)
  • Irregular Menstruation
  • Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
  • Menopause (Hot Flashes, etc.)
  • Leucorrhea
  • Pre and post-partum care
  • Induction of Labor
  • Labor and Delivery Pain Management
  • Morning Sickness
  • Breech Presentation
  • Infertility (Male and Female)

Emotional/Psychological IssuesLearn More

  • Stress, anger, irritability
  • Anxiety (PTSD, Panic Attacks)
  • Depression
  • Insomnia

Neurological Conditions

  • Trigeminal neuralgia
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Post-Stroke
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Dizziness and Vertigo
  • Herpes Zoster (Shingles)
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Stroke (CVA) and rehabilitation


  • Common Cold
  • Cough
  • Sinusitis
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis

Digestive System

  • Gastrointestinal and Hepato-Biliary Issues
  • Epigastric Pain
  • Mal-digestion – causing gas, bloating and discomfort
  • Acid Reflux
  • Abdominal Pain – including ulcers and colitis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Gallstones
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Nausea and Vomiting (as well as these symptoms when they are related to Chemotherapy resulting from cancer treatment including fatigue, insomnia, anorexia and diarrhea)

Immune &/or Auto-Immune Conditions

  • Chronic Colds and Infections
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

Auricular Issues

  • Ear Infections
  • Tinnitus

Endocrine System (Hormones)

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid Issues

Heart and Circulation

  • Hypertension or High Blood Pressure (HBP)
  • Palpitations
  • Tachycardia
  • Chest pain or tightness (with a negative work up)


  • Scar tissue
  • Swelling, flaking, itching, or redness
  • Hives
  • Acne

Kidney and Urinary System

  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s)
  • Nocturnal enuresis (night-time urination)
  • Dysuria (painful urination)
  • Prostate Disorders

To submit an inquiry to one of our professionals, email us at contact@riverwestacupuncture.com.
Have a question about acupuncture or some of our other services? Send us your question and we’ll get back to you shortly with a reply!

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