Traditional Chinese Medicine regards pain as stagnation of energy, and blood. Whenever there is a blockage, there will be pain. The goal of pain reduction techniques therefore, is to move energy and move blood.
Usually when an acupuncturist is addressing pain, she will use local points in the area of the pain, and distal point that are the command points for either the area affected, or command points for moving Qi and Blood.
Needling, though it sounds painful to the Westerner, involves very little pain. The needles which are hair fine, and solid stainless steel are used only once and then disposed. Needling sensation is a slight prick, then either a feeling of heaviness in the area or a 'busy' feeling of energy moving. Needles are retained for usually 20 to 30 minutes. Many people actually fall asleep during this phase, as the pain is relieved and the endorphins naturally relax one's body. Acupuncture is an effective form of pain control in chronic conditions, and can alleviate pain quite quickly in many circumstances
I use a gentle insertion technique, and good quality needles to reduce discomfort.
Other techniques which can be used are micro-current treatments for chronic pain, cupping massage for strained back muscles, moxibustion for cold stiff and sore muscles. Herbal formulas can increase circulation and warm channels thereby alleviating body pain. Each patient has a different and optimum treatment plan depending on the TCM diagnosis.