“The majority of physical diseases are caused by internal emotional factors”

– Classical Chinese Medicine

The success of your acupuncture program depends not only on the therapist’s skills, but also on your own thoughts about the effectiveness of your treatment. A new study found that patient’s psychological factors affect the benefits gained from acupuncture programs used to treat lower back pain.

Published in The Journal of Clinical Pain, the study involved 485 people receiving acupuncture for lower back pain, who completed a total of four questionnaires before, during, and after treatment. The questionnaires measured variables from four different psychological theories: the fear-avoidance model, the common sense model, expectancy theory, and social-cognitive theory.

The results suggest that positive patients are more likely to feel in control of their symptoms and therefore tend to experience less back-related disability during their acupuncture treatment. From the study, two thirds of the variance in disability was due to the measured psychological variables.

So, how can you be a “Positive Patient?” Try these steps below:

1. Believe in the benefits of your program. Try to leave skepticism at the door and approach your treatment as a positive opportunity that will follow through with the expected benefits. With minimal risks involved, acupuncture therapy can only help your situation.

2. Trust your acupuncture therapist. As a trained professional, your therapist understands your problems and knows the best treatment for optimum results. Establishing a relationship with your therapist over the course of your program increases the positive vibes associated with going to get treatment.

3. Understand your pain. Knowing your body and its pain responses is important to feeling in control of pain management. Try to be less emotional about your pain; cope with your disability and actively find solutions to your underlying problems. This will put rational control into your own hands and allow you to shape your treatment to meet your needs.

4. Educate yourself. To understand the expected benefits of your acupuncture treatment, do plenty of research on the topic. Talk with your therapist so you know what to expect.

Based on the results from this research, new studies are exploring whether integrating acupuncture with psychological interventions targeting illness and self-perceptions can improve patient outcomes. Talk with your therapist to see what new research can be incorporated into your treatment program. Introducing psychotherapy to your routine expands the benefits of acupuncture to include stress, anxiety, and depression reduction. Plus, the benefits will last longer and you will eventually find faster optimal relief.

If anything, this study proves positive thinking aids healing because of the strong link between the physical body and psychological functions. CNN recently suggested different ways to think yourself well, which included catching and reframing your thoughts and getting rid of fear. Simple steps like these, paired with a physical component (acupuncture, exercise, inversion therapy), can be the missing piece in your wellness regimen.