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Nociceptive and neuropathic pain

Nociceptive and neuropathic pain: What are they?

Nociceptive pain

“Nociceptive pain is a medical term used to describe the pain from physical damage or potential damage to the body. Examples might be the pain felt from a sports injury, a dental procedure, or arthritis.”

Acupuncture acts upon different mechanisms which have an affect on nociceptive pain, such as endorphins (a type of neurotransmitter that transmits chemical messages between neurons) like serotonin and noradrenalin. The analgesic affect of acupuncture on both acute and chronic pain is supported by Christer Carlsson’s research.

“The descending pain inhibitory tracts in the spinal cord seemed to originate in neurones in the nucleus raphe magnus (NRM). These neurones project to the dorsal horn and use serotonin as the principal neurotransmitter.”

Neuropathic pain

“Neuropathic pain is a medical term used to describe the pain that develops when the nervous system is damaged or not working properly due to disease or injury. It is different from nociceptive pain because it does not develop in response to any specific circumstance or outside stimulus.”

A meta-analysis of fifteen studies showed acupuncture to have beneficial effects on the treatment of neuropahty from various diseases.
“Acupuncture is probably effective in the treatment of HIV-related neuropathy, and there is insufficient evidence for its benefits in idiopathic neuropathy. Acupuncture appears to improve nerve conduction study parameters in both sensory and motor nerves.”

In addition to neuropathic pain, acupuncture also also been shown to be beneficial for neurodegenerative diseases.

So we see that acupuncture is capable of treating both nociceptive and neuropathic pain. Some people may ask “you think acupuncture can treat everything don’t you?” What often goes misconstrued is the view of acupuncture as single type of treatment, instead of a system of medicine, with it’s own methods of diagnosis. Acupuncture is a integral modality within Chinese medicine, a system that views the body as an integrated unit, who’s optimal functionality is codependent on the integrity and communication of all it’s parts. Merely addressing the symptoms of one part does not lead to addressing the root cause of illness which affects the whole.


Carlsson, C. (2002, January 1). Acupuncture mechanisms for clinically relevant long-term effects – reconsideration and a hypothesis. Retrieved August 16, 2018, from

Dimitrova, A., Murchison, C., & Oken, B. (2017, March 01). Acupuncture for the Treatment of Peripheral Neuropathy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Retrieved August 16, 2018, from

Dresden, D. (n.d.). Nociceptive and neuropathic pain: What’s the difference? Retrieved from

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