According to the American Pain Association, an estimated 86 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. Chronic pain can be characterized by persistent pain signals that are repeatedly fired from the nervous system, and they can last from weeks to years. As with most prevalent and life-affecting afflictions, there is a wide variety of solutions available; from over-the-counter medication to prescription drugs, chronic pain is dealt with daily in a variety of ways. However, traditional Chinese medicine may have two more effective means of relief to offer.
Both Chinese acupuncture and massage therapy are regularly used to alleviate chronic pain. There is some contention in the field of Oriental medicine as to which practice is more beneficial. According to the British Medical Journal, a recent study showed acupuncture to provide greater short-term pain relief and better range of motion than traditional massage. The conclusion of the British Medical Journal declared acupuncture to be a safe form of treatment for people with chronic neck pain and one that offers clear clinical advantages over conventional massage in the reduction of pain and improvement of mobility.
While acupuncture is believed by many to provide long-term relief for chronic pain, massage therapy also has a good deal of staunch believers. The Archives of Internal Medicine conducted a randomized trial comparing traditional Chinese medical acupuncture, therapeutic massage, and self-care education for chronic low back pain. The results this study stated that therapeutic massage was effective for persistent low back pain and provided long-lasting benefits, and that traditional Chinese acupuncture was "relatively ineffective." The Touch Research Institute has conducted over 90 clinical studies on the beneficial effects of massage therapy. These studies have proven massage therapy's effectiveness in the relief of not only chronic pain, but also juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, labor pain, fibromyalgia, and back pain