by Nalini Chilkov, LAC, OMD
Who is calm and relaxed before surgery? I don’t know too many patients who are not anxious before surgery. Patients participating in a study in China who received acupuncture prior to surgery reported a greater than 50% decrease in their anxiety.
When patients have high levels of anxiety and stress hormones, lose sleep and cannot relax before an operation, the capacity to withstand the physiologic stress of surgery is decreased. This compromises the patient’s chances for a good outcome free of complications. Furthermore, having a good healing of surgical incisions, improved resistance to infection, normal digestion and elimination, restful sleep and decreased pain are all enhanced when a patient is less anxious and is experiencing less stress.
While there are many ways to help patients deal with the stressors associated with surgery, acupuncture is a cost effective method that can be offered to pre-surgical patients.
Although the study participants were all adults, children who are facing surgery would also benefit from the calming effects of acupuncture.
Additionally, other studies have shown that acupuncture modulates immune function further improving resistance to infection which is important after surgery and especially while in the hospital environment where risk of infection is much higher.
It is common to see patients in Chinese hospitals have the benefit of BOTH modern biomedicine as well as Traditional Chinese Medicine.
We live in a time with access to a wide array of healing and medical modalities. Whether that be the scalpel or the acupuncture needle, it is of great benefit to offer patients an Integrative and Collaborative approach to health care.