What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and to improve its ability to function. This is done by inserting acupuncture needles at specific locations in the body.
What is medical acupuncture? Is it better to get acupuncture from a physician?
Medical acupuncture is a term used to describe acupuncture performed by a doctor trained and licensed in Western medicine who in addition has completed comprehensive training in acupuncture as a specialty practice. This training enables the doctor to combine these two approaches to best understand and improve your health issues. Many people feel most comfortable being treated by someone who has training in both medicine and acupuncture.
What can acupuncture treat?
Acupuncture is well known as an effective treatment of pain. In addition, there are many other medical problems that can be treated with acupuncture. The World Health Organization’s list of indications for acupuncture includes:
How does Acupuncture work?
The classical Chinese explanation is that channels of energy, called Chi, run in regular patterns through the body. These energy channels, or meridians, are like rivers flowing through the body that irrigate and nourish the tissues. An obstruction in this energy contributes to poor health and can cause illness. Acupuncture needles can unblock the obstructions and reestablish regular flow. Acupuncture treatments can help the body’s internal organs to correct imbalances and improve overall health and well-being.
The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the body. These chemicals can decrease pain, and also trigger the release of chemicals and hormones which then influence the body’s own internal regulating system. The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities, and in promoting physical and emotional well-being.
What are the needles like? Do they hurt?
Acupuncture needles are very thin. The needles’ points are smooth, not hollow with cutting edges like those used for a shot or drawing blood. Therefore, most people feel no pain when using acupuncture needles. Occasionally a slight pinch is felt as the needle is placed. However, the feeling is only momentary. Once the needles are placed, there is no pain or discomfort. The needles are sterile and are disposed of after one use.
How long will the needles stay in?
The needles will stay in place about 15 minutes for the first treatment. You will be lying on a comfortable surface and be given the opportunity to listen to relaxing music. Depending on your response to the treatment, subsequent acupuncture sessions will last between 15 minutes and 25 minutes. If you feel uncomfortable in any way during treatment, the doctor will adjust your position or the needles. Most people feel very relaxed during acupuncture.
How many treatments will I need?
The number of treatments differs depending on your issues and on your response to acupuncture. In the beginning, weekly visits may be recommended. As the problem resolves, the frequency of visits decreases. For health maintenance, four sessions a year are generally recommended.
Do I have to believe in acupuncture for it to work?
No. Acupuncture is used successfully on cats, dogs, horses and other animals. These animals do not understand or believe in this process, and it still helps them get better. Although a positive attitude towards your health reinforces the benefits of any health treatment you receive, it is not necessary to have such an attitude for acupuncture to work.
Are there any side effects to the treatment?
It is common to feel very relaxed and sleepy after acupuncture, particularly after the first one or two treatments. On rare occasion, the original symptoms may worsen for a day or two. If this happens, it is an indication that acupuncture is starting to work. Most changes that occur after acupuncture are indicative of better balance in your body, such as improved digestion, better sleep and an enhanced sense of well-being.
Does acupuncture really work?
Yes. In the past 2,000 years, more people have been successfully treated with acupuncture than with all other health treatments combined. The National Institutes of Health and The World Health Organization recognize acupuncture’s benefits for many conditions. There are now well-respected studies indicating that acupuncture can be an effective treatment for a range of conditions including chronic headaches, arthritis, and low back pain. Acupuncture is practiced widely in Asia and Europe, and is now being used more and more in the United States by patients and physicians with excellent results.