Acupuncture for Pain Management

Acupuncture at Duke Innovative Pain Therapies

Duke Innovative Pain Therapies (DIPT) is the first-of-its-kind pain practice in the world. This team of highly-trained pain management specialists is dedicated to transforming the way people suffering from chronic pain receive care and treatment, with a focus on non-opioid pain therapies, in a personalized environment that allows for optimal comprehensive care. Dr. Jongbae Jay Park is the only Korean Medicine Doctor practicing in a university-based hospital, worldwide. 

Acupuncture and Asian medicine is commonly referred to as alternative medicine. Acupuncture is recommended for treating a wide variety of conditions such as headaches, back pain, knee pain, neck pain, acid reflux, sleep disorders, insomnia, TMJ/TMD and fibromyalgia, and is a common choice for patients recovering from accidents or injuries.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a therapeutic technique whereby needles are inserted at specific target points in the body. Accumulating evidence from clinical trials conducted in the past decade demonstrate the effectiveness of acupuncture for various conditions including lower back pain, migraine, tension-type headaches, temporomandibular disorders, and fibromyalgia. Often the same points are pressed (acupressure) or warmed (moxibustion). Derived from Chinese-Asian healing culture, acupuncture is asserted to provoke recipient’s local and central responses to restore the flow of vitality.

What is Asian medicine?

Asian medicine considers illnesses, diseases and disorders as combined results of individual hosts’ degree of self-regulation and responses to external factors. Acupuncture stands as the non-medicinal pillar within the healing system of Chinese-Asian cultures. It shares the diagnostic and health promotional foundation with the system of herbal medicine (mineral and animal sources included). The practice of acupuncture in the United States often integrates medicinal/dietary supplements, breathing and physical movement, grounded on the principles of Asian medicine. Acupuncture at Duke Innovative Pain Therapies aspires to be the most bona-fide translated version maintaining its originality from the context of Chinese – Asian healing systems.

How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture may produce its effects through dynamic alterations in the tissue and extracellular milieu: generates micro injuries, characterized by cytoskeletal remodeling of subcutaneous connective tissue fibroblasts and deformation of extracellular matrix proteins; induces the synthesis and release of cytokines, chemokines, and growth factors from skin, muscle, and endothelial cells promoting healing and resolve inflammation; induces the local release of endogenous opioids and cannabinoids; and regulates the metabolism of stress hormones, such as catecholamines.

According to traditional beliefs, disease and chronic pain results from an insufficiency or blockage of vitality (similar to Qi or life force). Stimulation of acupuncture points along meridians (routes through which Qi travels) alleviates pain by restoring the flow of vitality. Clinicians assert that patients with higher vitality respond to acupuncture better.

What is unique about acupuncture and Asian medicine at DIPT?

Under Duke Innovative Pain Therapies’ motto of “Tradition, Innovation, Translation,” Dr. Jongbae Jay Park aims at delivering acupuncture that is deeply rooted in the essence of the traditional Chinese – Asian healing system, innovative with new learnings from scientific investigation, and translational to real world lives of contemporary population.

How is acupuncture performed?

Acupuncture is performed after a patient is positioned comfortably, either sitting or lying down. Heat is often applied to optimize vitality flow, including the flow of blood, lymph, and interstitial fluid. Acupuncturists identify target areas to needle, and insert fine needles either vertically or obliquely to an appropriate depth. Depending on the types of needles used, the degree of rigidity and the adjacency of the needled target tissues, patients can expect to feel a range of sensations including sharp, dull, heavy, and radiating. While needles are often retained for about 5-20 minutes, lancet acupuncture will be withdrawn immediately since it aims at bleeding retained deoxygenated blood in the varicose and spider veins.

Is acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture is reported to be safe when performed by qualified, medically-trained acupuncturists, such as Dr. Jongbae Jay Park.

What can I expect from my sessions of acupuncture and Asian medicine?

As a patient, you can expect to learn about your condition of concerns from the view of acupuncture and Asian medicine. In particular, what might have caused your condition, how it evolved; how to resolve it, and what might be the roles of you and the acupuncturist. The goal of the initial treatment is to establish hope that the condition of your concern can get better by, for example, experiencing less pain.

How many sessions do I need to see noticeable outcomes?

From acupuncture and Asian medicine services, more than half of patients have reported noticeable outcomes after the first treatment. The number of sessions required to experience noticeable outcomes depends on several factors, including the chronicity of the condition, vitality reservoir of the patient, and the patient’s proactive participation in building vitality. In general, deep breathing, eating nutrient and digestive food, fluent movement, and good rest are important elements to build vitality reservoir.

How long will the treatment effect last?

The length of lasting effect of the treatment varies from months, weeks, days and hours based on clinical observation. Factors include the degree of resolving etiological factors, vitality reservoir of the patient, and the patient’s proactive participation in building vitality. At Duke Innovative Pain Therapies,  as we build therapeutic dosage and see the reduction of the condition of concern, we have witnessed prolonged treatment effects to maintain recovery.

I have tried acupuncture before without success. Will it work at DIPT?

Duke Innovative Pain Therapies offers the latest and most advanced acupuncture and Asian medicine services in a multidisciplinary care setting within the professional network of Duke Health.

Do I have to stop taking my current pain medicines?

Traditionally, patients can continue taking their current pain medicines, but it is recommended to consult your physician to readjust the dosage as you experience pain reduction from acupuncture and Asian medicine at Duke Innovative Pain Therapies.

What conditions have people sought for treatment with acupuncture and Asian medicine at DIPT?

  • Musculoskeletal pain conditions (back and neck pain, myofascial pain, myalgia, sciatica)
  • Neuropathic pain conditions (trigeminal neuralgia, complex regional pain syndrome, post herpetic pain, diabetic neuropathy, chemo – induced neuropathy, radiation induced neuropathy)
  • Headaches (migraine, tension, post-traumatic)
  • Knee pain, hip pain, tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, ankle sprain, plantar fasciitis
  • Perimenstrual pain (hot flashes, pelvic pain, prolapse, urinary incontinence, benign prostate hyperplasia)
  • Persistent postoperative pain (post-laminectomy syndrome, post hip/ knee replacement pain, post lumpectomy pain)
  • Orofacial conditions (jaw pain, temporomandibular disorder (TMD), dry mouth, teeth grinding)
  • Tinnitus, Bell’s palsy; Raynaud’s disease (cold extremities)
  • Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease
  • Post-stroke pain and stiffness
  • Pain associated with Parkinson’s

Jongbae Jay Park, PhD, LAc
Jongbae Jay Park, PhD, LAc

Associate Professor in Anesthesiology
Director, Acupuncture and Asian Medicine
Center for Translational Pain Medicine

Acupuncture Offers Alternative for Pain Relief

Rob Sims discussing his good health, thanks to acupuncture.

Rob Sims was working underneath his backyard deck in 2007 when he was bitten by a copperhead, which led to years of chronic pain. Today, he credits his good health to acupuncture and the guidance of his Asian medicine specialist, Dr. Park.

Duke Innovative Pain Therapies
A Multispecialty Practice at Brier Creek

Brier Creek Medical Pavilion
10207 Cerny Street, Suite 114
Raleigh, NC  27617

Appointments and Referrals:

Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Chris KeithAcupuncture for Pain Management