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Acupuncture and pain relief

Vrij, E.L. de (2010) Acupuncture and pain relief. Bachelor's Thesis, Biology.

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Abstract

Pain is one of the most common ailments in a myriad of diseases. Pain relief therefore is very important in ancient and modern medicine. This review will explore the potential beneficial effects of acupuncture on the relieve of pain and its underlying mechanisms. Pain is a protective mechanism for our survival. Nociceptive substances, like bradykinin, prostaglandin, ATP, and substance P, play an important role in nociceptive pain, caused by any kind of tissue damage. Damage to nervous tissue causes neuropathic pain. The intrinsic pain relieving analgesic system is characterised by action of descending inhibitory nerve fibres and opioids. It is linked to the mechanism of acupuncture analgesia at the level of the brain, spinal cord, nerves, receptors and their ligands. Acupuncture is used as a therapy for pain relief and for the equilibration of imbalances in visceral and autonomic functions. It is developed around 2,000 B.C. in China and nowadays practiced globally. It influences many brain areas, e.g. the anterior cingulate cortex, the pain perception area. Opioid receptors μ, δ and κ in the brain and spinal cord are activated by acupuncture released enkephalins, β-endorphin, and dynorhpin. The insertion of small acupuncture needles releases anti-nociceptive mediators like adenosine and activates somatic sensory afferent fibres types Aα, Aβ, Aδ and C (or I, II, III and IV respectively). These somatic afferent fibres can elicit a somato sympathetic reflex increasing blood flow, consequently flushing out nociceptive substances, decreasing pain. Moreover, activating nonnociceptive Aα and Aβ fibers will inhibit the nociceptive Aδ and C fibers, reducing the pain. This article first explicates the types of pain and their pathways, biological structures, and receptors and ligands involved. Secondly, it will explain the mechanism of the intrinsic pain relieving analgesic system and the correlation with acupuncture. Finally, acupuncture analgesia will be explained by reviewing its possible mechanism at the level of the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and receptors and their ligands.

Item Type: Thesis (Bachelor's Thesis)
Degree programme: Biology
Thesis type: Bachelor's Thesis
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 07:44
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 07:44
URI: http://fse.studenttheses.ub.rug.nl/id/eprint/9328

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