For over 3000 years, Traditional Chinese Medicine Has been used effectively to treat a wide variety of health issues. Acupuncture is the oldest continuously practiced health care system in the world and is the primary health care practice for one third of the worlds population. The benefits of acupuncture are now clearly recognized and well documented in western medical journals. Due to its safe and non-invasive nature, Acupuncture has become one of the most popular forms of complimentary health care practiced today. Below are some of the most common questions we are asked about acupuncture.
Sixteenth century Chinese doctors believed that illness was due to an imbalance of energy in the body. In acupuncture, disposable, stainless steel needles are used to stimulate the body's 14 major meridians, or energy-carrying channels, to resist or overcome illnesses and conditions by correcting these imbalances.
Acupuncture is also thought to decrease pain by increasing the release of chemicals that block pain, called endorphins. Many acu-points are near nerves. When stimulated, these nerves cause a dull ache or feeling of fullness in the muscle. The stimulated muscle sends a message to the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), causing the release of endorphins (morphine-like chemicals produced in our own bodies during times of pain or stress). Endorphins, along with other neurotransmitters (body chemicals that modify nerve impulses), block the message of pain from being delivered up to the brain.
Although acupuncture is not a "cure-all" treatment, it is very effective in treating several diseases and conditions. Acupuncture is most effective at treating chronic pain, such as headaches; menstrual cramps; and low back, neck, or muscle pain. It can also be used to treat arthritis, facial pain, pain from shingles, and spastic colon and colitis conditions. Acupuncture has also been successful in treating obesity and addictions such as nicotine or drugs. Acupuncture also can improve the functioning of the immune system (the body's defense system against diseases).
Importantly, don't rely on acupuncture for treatment of chronic or serious illness unless you see a doctor first. Acupuncture may not be the only way to improve your condition. Your health-care provider may recommend acupuncture treatment along with other treatment methods such as physical therapy or medication.
The acupuncturist will swab each acu-point area with alcohol before tapping a hair-thin, metal needle into the site. The number of needles used during treatment can vary and are placed at various depths. They are placed under the skin in carefully determined points on the body.
The needles are retained for 20-45 minutes depending on the diagnosis and constitution of the individual. During the treatment, the needles can be stimulated using different techniques if the treatment warrants it.
In a treatment series, the acupuncturist will use different combinations of points, different needling techniques, or both. These combinations help stimulate new sources of healing as the person's response to treatment is observed.
You may feel a slight prick when the needle is inserted, but it is much less than the prick you feel during an injection, since the needles are much thinner. You may feel a heaviness, numbness, tingling, or mild soreness after the needles have been inserted.
Yes. When acupuncture is performed with disposable needles under clean, sterile conditions, and by a qualified practitioner it is highly unusual to have any complications.
Yes. There are approximately 6,500 licensed acupuncturists in the U.S. and 3,000 doctors who perform acupuncture as part of their medical practice. In addition, the World Health Organization currently recognizes more than 40 medical problems, ranging from allergies to AIDS, which can be helped by acupuncture treatment. Lastly, the FDA regulates acupuncture needles as medical devices.
Some insurance companies will pay for acupuncture treatment. Because each insurance provider has different restrictions, it is best to consult with your provider to determine if your treatment will be covered.
The number of treatments required depends on each person's condition and response to acupuncture. One acupuncture session does not usually result in lasting pain relief. Usually two sessions a week for four to five weeks is a normal course of treatment. It may take several treatments before you notice any benefit, so try at least five treatments before you really assess how you are feeling.
Acupuncture has a very calming effect. You may feel excessively relaxed after the treatment and should take necessary precautions. No matter how good you feel after the treatment, it is important not to overextend yourself. You should take it easy for a few days after the treatment. In addition, it is important to continue taking your prescribed medications.