What are the benefits of Acupuncture for post surgery pain, fatigue, and nausea?

Both nausea and fatigue occur normally right after surgery. Lingering post procedural fatigue for days and weeks after surgery can be frustrating and overwhelming. The proposed mechanisms for lingering fatigue after surgery has to do with poor activity levels, nutritional status, muscle loss, and poor cardiac output. That is a pretty technical list, let’s simplify this into an example. Because of a long surgery the body will become depleted and tired. This will result in a lot of bed rest, low appetite, and muscle wasting, which then results in further lingering fatigue. 

Acupuncture has a really positive effect on post surgery nausea but it may not be the best option for post surgery fatigue depending on the clinical situation. A better beginning option for post surgery fatigue would be food therapy, exercise, pain management (using caution due to fatigue). A Chinese herbal remedy would be a better starting therapy than would acupuncture.

How long does post surgical pain last?

Pain levels can continue for weeks to months after surgery. A recent study discovered that the intensity – 48 hours after surgery – is a more reliable way to predict how long it will take to have pain levels go away. For example, patients with pain levels at 50%, for the first forty-eight hours, eventually would have their intensity drop to 40% after seven days and 30% after 3 months. Unfortunately, this also demonstrates that pain levels can be quite high and persistent even after several months.

Given the clinical goals of acupuncture treatment, pain levels can be controlled or reduced for patients with post surgery pain whether you’ve had pain for weeks, months, or years. As a result, this article will review the relevant research for post surgical pain and how acupuncture can get you feeling better faster.

How long does post surgical fatigue last?

The benefit of acupuncture for nausea and pain after surgery has been well researched. The Acupuncture Research Project lists both post surgery pain and post surgery nausea as two conditions with clear and positive benefit. If you are interested in research, the Acupuncture Research Project is a comprehensive literature review, which is a comprehensive review of hundreds of research articles. Or simply put, thousands upon thousands of patients found acupuncture reduced their pain and  nausea after surgery. 

Acupuncture treatments are focused on stimulating circulation in order to help heal tissue. Consequently, it is no surprise that acupuncture would be helpful for post surgery conditions like pain and nausea. Acupuncture is focused on getting the body to heal quickly and as fully as possible. 

What do our patients have to say?

Dr. Mark is the best.  I saw him for 4 weeks leading up to a major surgery and have recovered better than anyone, according to my surgeon.  Most people take 3-6 weeks off after this kind of surgery and I was back to work in 5 days and back to doing everything – laundry, stairs, carrying stuff, etc. within 10 days (except exercising – just walking for 6 weeks).  I love how he combines western and eastern practices to deliver amazing results using all available modalities.  He is even in network with some insurance companies which is nice.

Kimberly Cunningham

Supplement Recommendations for Post Surgical Pain

Dr. Mark VanOtterloo is a licensed acupuncturist and Doctor of Acupuncture, located in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. He is an integrative, functional medicine practitioner specializing in chronic disease and women’s health. To learn more about how acupuncture can help with your pain, fatigue, scarring, or nausea after surgery, schedule an appointment online.

Article References:

Rosén HI, Bergh IH, Odén A, Mårtensson LB. Patients´ experiences of pain following day surgery – at 48 hours, seven days and three months. Open Nurs J. 2011;5:52-59. doi:10.2174/1874434601105010052

Rose EA, King TC. Understanding postoperative fatigue. Surg Gynecol Obstet. 1978 Jul;147(1):97-102. PMID: 351838.

McDonald J, Janz S. The Acupuncture Evidence Project: A Comparative Literature Review (Revised edition). © Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd, 2017: http://www.acupuncture.org.au