How acupuncture works for pain

The mechanisms underlying how acupuncture is so effective for treating pain have been researched extensively for over 60 years.

While there is still much left to learn about acupuncture mechanisms and the human body in general, the neural pathways from acupuncture point stimulation, to the spinal cord to the deactivation of the pain centers in the brain have been mapped.

Acupuncture has been demonstrated to activate a number of the body’s own opioids as well as improving the brain’s sensitivity to opioids. A number of other biochemicals involved in pain reduction have been found to be released or regulated by acupuncture stimulation, including ATP and adenosine, GABA and substance P.

“Within a few weeks of seeing Kim, my symptoms began to settle – it felt amazing! I see it as an investment in myself and my well being”.


Here is a success story from one of our lovely patients who found pain relief from acupuncture… 

Condition being treatment for-
Tightness and pain around the shoulder blades after 2 surgeries for multiple dislocated shoulders which meant I had slightly limited range in one shoulder on top of pain across the upper back. This was normally after a build up of tension over months ever since the surgeries (7 years ago and 5 years ago). I’ve had physio from the NHS after the surgeries, private physio, sports massages and deep tissue. The closest thing to working was sports massages focussing on the pressure points but this was EXTREMELY painful and would only help for a short period of time before coming back. For my birthday I was gifted a massage at Life + Lemons for my shoulders and after talking to the lady there, they advised trying acupuncture instead as it should work better than the massages. I was initially very sceptical about it but both my dad and wife have had acupuncture to help with things in the past and said it was the only thing that worked for them so I tried to keep an open mind. I was surprised how different it was to what I believed it would be like. You don’t feel the needles and it’s very relaxing and Kimberley was excellent and would explain what she was doing and why. After the first session, the tension eased and I became more aware of when I would be unnecessarily clenching the muscles in my back. When I went in for my second treatment, Kimberley asked how I was and how my range was now. I hadn’t thought about the range problem since the first session (before I could only raise my left arm to about 11 o’clock before I couldn’t move it any further). Upon trying, I could now get both arms way above my head (back to normal levels) which definitely caught me by surprise. I’d definitely recommend acupuncture and Kimberley!- If you could sum up your experience of acupuncture treatment in three words, what would they be?
Surprising, successful, painless

Simon Wilson


Here is some useful information about how acupuncture works to combat pain…

Osteoarthritis + Knee Pain | After a life-time of fun and activity, our joints are put under pressure and inevitably suffer some wear and tear. This can lead to aching knees that affect your sleep or a lack of mobility when walking up and down stairs. Osteoarthritis is the primary cause of this pain, inflammation and stiffness, making it hard to flex and extend your knee.

In a bid to avoid over prescription of pain medication, a lot of time and money has gone in to research about the benefits of acupuncture in managing osteoarthritic pain.

No two patients are treated alike. Some patients find relief with needles alone. Others need a more involved technique, such as electro-acupuncture. It can also be used safely alongside your pain medication.

If you have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis in the knee, don’t ice it! You might notice that your knee pain gets worse with cold and damp weather. This is because the condition is degenerative and the pain is chronis, it’s not an acute injury whereby the ice would help reduce the swelling.

Even though the pain may feel hot in nature, apply regular warmth to help stimulate lots of blood flow to the area. Hot, epsom salts baths are also fantastic to reduce internal inflammation and help lubricate the joint.

Lower back pain | This is the UK’s leading cause of disability and one of the main reasons for work-related sickness absence.

Acupuncture is now available on the NHS for back pain as it has been found to be particularly useful as an adjunct to conventional care, for patients with more severe symptoms and for those wishing to avoid conventional medication.



Further success stories from the people who matter the most… our patients!…

I initially contacted Kim as I was suffering from ongoing bladder pain, which, several months after a UTI and two rounds of antibiotics, had not completely subsided. As well as the physical pain, the condition was having a knock on impact on my mental health; I worried about how to manage the condition and was anxious about how it would progress. I was keen to avoid relying purely on pain killers, and so decided to give acupuncture a go. 
From the first virtual meeting with Kim, I felt at ease and listened to. Kim is very easy to talk to, so I always felt comfortable sharing any concerns (however graphic!) and worries. She is also incredibly professional, and each session was tailored to how I was feeling, and what had happened that particular week. 
As well as the acupuncture, she also shared advice on supplements and potentially helpful other treatments, as part of a holistic approach to my health – it made such a difference to know that somebody was looking at the wider picture and really cared about making me feel my best.   
Within a few weeks of seeing Kim, my symptoms began to settle – it felt amazing! I now see her to keep on top of the condition. I see it as an investment in myself and my well being. The clinic is beautifully designed and impeccably clean and a really nice space to take time away from the stresses of life. 
I would recommend Kim, and Life and Lemons unreservedly. 

– If you could sum up your experience of acupuncture treatment in three words, what would they be?

Empowering, relaxing, positive

Sarah Shaw

Four years ago, my right wrist was ridiculously painful. It was constantly strapped up in one of those wrist protectors. The job I was doing at the time involved me using my right hand constantly, for up to 12 hours a day.
A friend of mine recommended Kim to me. I attended her clinic and at my first appointment I felt like I was in a big warm hug, and I knew that everything was going to be ok.
After 3 appointments of acupuncture, my wrist was pain free, which at the time I thought absolutely unbelievable!
The treatment I received from Kim was life changing. It enabled me to carry on working without fear of losing pay and a cloud of worry was lifted from my shoulders.

Anne Murray

Kim is absolutely amazing. Always conscientious, empathetic, caring, as well as professional. She shows a real care for her craft and I can’t recommend her enough if you’ve been let down by or been given up on by other medical practitioners.

Whether it’s physical issues or mental health issues, she always aims to help you find some sort of relief through various acupuncture techniques, and is always searching for new ways to approach your treatment through further expansion of her own knowledge. Always leave the clinic feeling refreshed, positive, and relaxed.

I normally see her for anxiety issues, including some frequent urinary issues stemming from the anxiety, but my most recent visit I asked her about some pain relief treatment regarding to a lifelong and chronic hip condition. Within minutes of leaving the clinic and with further improvement within the hours following, my hip pain had subsided.

Mike Tyson

About Kimberley

Kimberley, Acupuncturist and Clinic Director at Life + Lemons, is a registered TCM (Traditional Chinese Medical) Acupuncturist, passionate about helping women reclaim their feminine edge. After graduating with a First Class Honors in York, she has undertaken specialist training in the area of pain management, natural conception, IVF support, menopause + pelvic pain (endometriosis/dysmenorrhea).


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