In times of pain and illness, patients often take the classic route: go to the doctor and have a prescription issued. However, many people find that this method does not completely relieve their pain. They then turn to less conventional methods, such as acupuncture, for additional relief.
Acupuncture stands out from non-traditional treatments because it is clinically proven to reduce the pain and symptoms of certain medical conditions. When combined with traditional medical treatments, acupuncture has brought additional healing to millions of people. However, many people are still wary of acupuncture, either out of fear of needles or disbelief in the practice.
Acupuncture is a form of complementary therapy in which very fine needles are inserted into the body. Doctors insert needles in different places and at different depths to treat different health problems. Acupuncture can help relieve pain and treat a variety of other ailments. However, how it works exactly remains unclear. Some people believe it works by balancing life energy, while others believe it has a neurological effect.
What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture involves inserting needles into the body to stimulate sensory nerves in the skin and muscles. This can help treat chronic pain and other physical conditions. Acupuncture has its roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and is now a global complementary treatment.
Acupuncture is closely related to the Chinese meridian theory. According to this theory, there are 12 main meridians or pathways and eight other meridians, each following a specific directional course through the body. A vital energy known as Qi flows through these meridians and is involved in the homeostatic regulation of various bodily functions. There are approximately 360 points along the meridians that serve both as pathognomonic signs of the disorder and as locations for acupuncture treatments. When the normal flow of energy down a meridian is impeded (e.g., because of tissue injury or a tumour), pain or other symptoms occur.
Chinese medicine suggests that the purpose of acupuncture therapy is to normalize the flow of energy and thereby relieve symptoms by stimulating specific locations (acupuncture points) on the meridians. In acupuncture treatment, stainless steel needles, typically 0.22mm to 0.25mm in diameter, are inserted into relevant acupuncture points to stimulate affected meridians. There is a throbbing sensation known as Qi sensation that the patient may experience heaviness, numbness, or tingling during an acupuncture treatment. The duration and frequency of treatment depend on the condition being treated. Acupuncture treatment for cancer symptoms or treatment of side effects often takes place in several sessions per week. The needles generally remain in place for 15 to 30 minutes after insertion, and their effects can be relieved by manual or electrical stimulation and/or heat (e.g., moxibustion or heat lamps).
How Does It Work?
TCM explains that health is the result of a harmonious balance of the complementary yin and yang extremes of the life force known as qi, pronounced “chee”. Proponents believe that disease is the result of an imbalance in these forces. According to TCM, Qi flows through the meridians or pathways of the human body. These meridians and energy flows are accessible through 361 acupuncture points on the body. Pricking needles into these points with the right combinations will rebalance the flow of energy.
The Philosophy Behind Acupuncture
Traditional acupuncture posits that the body is governed by a flow of energy known as qi (pronounced “chee”), which flows along pathways called meridians. Acupuncturists believe that problems or blockages in the flow of energy along these meridians are responsible for many ailments. Toxins, stress, trauma, hormones, and even the food we eat can all contribute to blocking qi.
While some practitioners still follow the traditional qi philosophy, others have also begun to incorporate a more integrative approach, supported by research and the principles of Western medicine. For example, many of today’s acupuncturists see acupoints as places that stimulate nerves and enhance the body’s natural healing and pain-fighting processes.
Common Diseases Treated With Acupuncture
One of the focal points of acupuncture treatment is the alleviation of pain and the improvement of general well-being. It can be used to relieve pain after surgery or medical and dental treatments. Patients with chronic headaches and migraines can also benefit greatly from acupuncture treatment and it is commonly used for back and muscle pain, stress relief, and general well-being. Patients with neurological diseases also report relief after acupuncture treatments.
Acupuncture can also help improve immune and nervous system function. This, in turn, promotes better overall well-being and helps the body heal itself when illness or injury occurs.
All therapies come with risks and benefits. A person should always seek medical advice before undertaking any therapy.
Potential risks of acupuncture include:
- Bleeding, bruising, and pain may occur at the puncture sites.
- Unsterilized needles can cause infection.
- In rare cases, a needle can break off and damage an internal organ. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates acupuncture needles as medical devices. Their manufacture and labelling must meet certain standards. Needles must be sterile, non-toxic, and labelled “single-use” by a licensed physician.
- As with all complementary therapies, the use of acupuncture in conjunction with conventional treatments is recommended for chronic or serious diseases.
Acupuncture is a common complementary therapy that can help people deal with many different medical conditions.
The benefits of acupuncture include the following:
- People can effectively combine acupuncture with other treatments.
- Effective acupuncture can help control chronic pain, migraines, and headaches.
- Acupuncture carries a small risk of side effects.
- It is a flexible form of treatment that can treat many health problems at the same time.
What to Expect
An acupuncturist will examine a person and assess their condition, insert one or more thin, sterile needles, and provide advice.
People normally sit or lie down during the procedure. The acupuncturist must use sterile, disposable needles. People may feel a very brief burning or tingling sensation when the needle is inserted.
You may then feel a dull ache at the base of the needle. The needles typically stay in place for 20 to 60 minutes, although this can vary depending on the procedure. In some practices, the acupuncturist sometimes heats the needles after insertion.
The number of treatments a person needs depends on their individual case. Someone with a chronic condition may need one or two treatments a week for several months. An acute health problem usually improves after 8 to 12 sessions.
Things to Remember
Acupuncture is a complementary therapy and should not replace treatments recommended by your doctor.
Before undergoing acupuncture for the treatment of chronic pain or other conditions, a person should seek the advice of a general practitioner. In some US states, acupuncturists can be primary care physicians themselves.
7 Health Benefits
When chronic stress, real-world problems, or hormonal imbalances are causing mood swings and depression, acupuncture can provide significant relief. When you use acupuncture needles, your central nervous system is stimulated, which releases endorphins and other mood-enhancing chemicals. This process allows you to be more positive and helps your body fight the harmful effects of chronic anxiety.
Precise positioning of acupuncture needles near specific nerves can provide dramatic pain relief. The released endorphins can also help improve feelings of total discomfort and reduce migraines and recurring headaches.
Improving The Quality of Sleep
Acupuncture increases the body’s ability to produce more melatonin, the hormone that, when levels are optimal, regulates the sleep-wake cycle. The current situation is mainly due to our unhealthy lifestyle and sleeping habits; it is often under produced, resulting in drowsiness or frequent waking up at midnight, or constant exhaustion. If this continues for long periods, this could be an ideal breeding ground for possible health problems in the future. Acupuncture can help go back to sleep and then stay calm.
Support Of the Immune System
The modern way of life challenges the immune system more than ever. As the first line of defence against physical harm, their efficient and effective operation is critical. Acupuncture is not just a way to boost the immune system and enable it to fight infections and other dangerous threats to our bodies. However, it also speeds up the healing process. Another purpose of acupuncture is to regulate the immune system, which when overactive can lead to the development of various autoimmune diseases.
If you are looking for a physical or mental energy boost to combat fatigue, acupuncture could offer tremendous benefits in combating fatigue or mental drowsiness. An optimal set point is achieved by balancing the body’s energy field and allowing all organs to function optimally. This means you experience a sense of calm that allows for greater relaxation and pain-free recovery. Stimulating the right neural pathways can lead to increased physical endurance and clear, efficient thinking.
Regularly scheduled acupuncture sessions effectively combat seasonal and other common allergies. By promoting our body’s self-healing and immunity, allergens tend to do much less damage. The number of instances has also been significantly reduced. Acupuncture can also efficiently treat the signs of allergies, including a runny nose, swollen eyelids, or a sore throat.
To support the normal functioning of your digestive tract and adjacent organs by balancing potentially weak energy fields, acupuncture can be used to treat almost any digestive tract problem. It doesn’t matter if it’s acute digestive issues or severe symptoms of ongoing chronic issues that haven’t been properly treated, such as Cohn’s disease, gallstones, or inflammatory bowel disease; Acupuncture can help.
How Is Acupuncture Done?
Prior to getting acupuncture, your acupuncturist will ask approximately your fitness records and might come up with a bodily examination.
During the acupuncture consultation, skinny needles are positioned in precise regions to cope with your issue or condition. The acupuncturist might also additionally lightly twist the needles for brought effect. The needles are regularly left in for 15 to twenty minutes, with the overall consultation lasting everywhere from half-hour to an hour.
Your acupuncturist might also additionally use extra strategies at some point of your consultation including:
- Moxibustion: This entails using heated sticks, crafted from dried herbs, held close to the acupuncture needles to heat, and stimulate the acupuncture points.
- Electroacupuncture: An electric tool is hooked up to numerous needles, supplying a susceptible electric cutting-edge that stimulates the acupuncture needles at some point of the treatment.
- Cupping: Glass or silicone cups are carried out to the pores and skin so that there may be a suction effect, which goals to assist stimulate blood go with the drift and stability of your energy.
After the treatment, a few humans might also additionally experience relaxation, whilst others might also additionally experience energy. If you enjoy any uncommon symptoms, you need to touch your healthcare provider.
Is Acupuncture Painful?
You might also additionally experience a mild sting, pinch, ache, or a few aches because the acupuncture needle is being inserted. Some acupuncturists circulate the needle after it’s been positioned within side the body, which may purpose extra pressure.
Once the needle has been nicely positioned, you can experience a tingling or heavy feeling, that’s called de qi.
Let your acupuncturist realize in case you are uncomfortable or in loads of ache at any factor at some point of the consultation. The intense ache might also additionally suggest the needle has now no longer been inserted or positioned correctly.
Researchers aren’t exactly sure how acupuncture works, however, theories suggest that it may help release endorphins, as well as influence the autonomic nervous system. Acupuncture may be helpful for a variety of concerns, including some mental health disorders, pain, inflammatory conditions, stress, and skin appearance. However, keep in mind that acupuncture can lead to mild or serious side effects in some individuals.
An acupuncture session can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and usually involves about 20 minutes with the needles in. Some individuals may feel some pain or pressure while the needles are inserted, while others may feel different sensations while the needles are in.