Can acupuncture reduce pain after surgery or nausea?

In short, yes.  Acupuncture can help to reduce post surgical pain and nausea. The Acupuncture Evidence Project lists both post surgery pain and post surgery nausea as two conditions with clear and positive benefits from acupuncture treatment. If you are interested in research, the Acupuncture Evidence 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.

When should you see an acupuncturist for pain?

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.

Acupuncture treatments are focused on stimulating circulation in order to help the body heal its own 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. 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, acupuncture can be utilized for any stage of pain after surgery.

Does acupuncture help with post surgical fatigue?

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 and pain 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, and other forms of pain management (using caution due to fatigue). A Chinese herbal remedy or nutritional supplement would also be a better alternative therapy than acupuncture along with any rehabilitative exercises.

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

Your Pain After Surgery Pain Plan

Step 1 — schedule an appointment: Concerned about the costs? Visit this page to find out more about the cost of treatments.

Step 2 — get a plan: Not all pain is the same. We develop an individulal plan just for you at your initial appoinment.

Step 3 — follow the plan: Easier said than done. Every tried to diet? Not so easy right? We’ve got tons of experience helping patients while providing amazing treatments.

Curious about me? Maybe we haven’t met yet. You can learn more about Dr. Mark VanOtterloo DAOM by using the link provided. Thanks for considering us as your partner in health!

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: