What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is one of the modalities of oriental medicine. Although what is called acupuncture in the west comprises several different therapies (such as moxibustion and cupping), mostly it consists of the insertion of fine needles into the body at specific points shown to be effective in the treatment of specific health problems. These points have been mapped by the Chinese over a period of 2,000 years, and there are more than 1,000 known acupuncture points. In the past three decades, electromagnetic research has confirmed the existence and location of these points.
What problems can be treated by acupuncture?
The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture’s effectiveness for over 40 common disorder, such as:
- Ear, nose & throat disorder, toothaches, earaches, sinusitis, rhinitis and laryngitis.
- Respiratory disorder, cold & flus, bronchitis, asthmas, allergies and emphysema.
- Gastrointestinal disorders, food allergies, nausea, indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, ulcers and colitis.Circulatory disorders,hypertension, high cholesterol, arteriosclerosis and angina pectoris.
- Urogenital disorders, cystitis, stress incontinence, neurogenic bladder, prostatitis and prostatic hypertrophy.
- Gynecological disorders, menstrual irregularity, endometriosis, PMS, infertility and menopausal syndrome.
- Musculoskeletal disorders, tennis elbow, frozen shoulder, TMJ, sciatica, low back pain, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and fibromyalgia.
- Psycho emotional & neurological disorders, depression, anxiety, insomnia, headache, migraine, trigeminal neuralgia, intercostal neuralgia, post-stroke paralysis, dizziness and tinnitus.
In addition, acupuncture has been used for centuries throughout Asia to treat hundreds of other problems.
How does acupuncture work?
Modern western medicine cannot yet explain how acupuncture works. Traditional Asian acupuncture is based on ancient Chinese theories of the flow of qi (a fine, essential substance that nourishes and constructs the body) through distinct channels that cover the body somewhat like the nerves and blood vessels. According to this theory, acupuncture adjusts the flow of qi in the body, leading it to areas where it is insufficient and draining it from areas where it is stuck and / or superabundant. In this way, acupuncture restores the harmonious balance of the body and its parts. In Chinese, there is a saying, “If there is pain, there is no pain.” Acupuncture promotes and reestablishes the flow of qi.
Is acupuncture safe?
When performed by a competently trained, licensed professional, acupuncture is extremely safe. All licensed acupuncturists today use individually packaged, sterile, disposable needles. So there is virtually no chance of infection or contagion.
Does it hurt?
Acupuncture needles are typically not much thicker that a hair and their insertions are practically painless. It is nothing like receiving an ordinary injection. In some cases, you will not even know the needles are in place. In others, there may be some tingling, warmth, heaviness, or a feeling of the qi moving up and down the channels. Most people find acupuncture extremely relaxing, and many fall asleep during treatment.
How many treatments will I need?
That depends on the duration severity and nature of your complaint. You may need only a single treatment for an acute condition. A series of 5-10 treatments may resolve many chronic problems. Some degenerative conditions may require many treatments over time. To help reduce the number of treatments, your practitioner may suggest dietary modifications, specific exercise regimens, relaxation techniques, self-massage, and/or Chinese herbal medicines, all of which may help to increase the efficacy of acupuncture.
Are there different styles of acupuncture?
Acupuncture originated in China but has spread to Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Europe, and America. In different countries, different styles have developed based on differing opinions as to theory and technique. Patients should talk to their practitioner about his or her particular style and learn as much as possible about the treatment being proposed.
What should I know about the proposed treatments?
Your practitioner will explain the nature of your problem in oriental medical terms and what treatment he or she is recommending. Your practitioner will tell you what benefits and risks there are to the proposed treatment and what other treatment options are available to you through this practitioner or by referral to anther practitioner or physician.
What criteria should I use in choosing an acupuncturist?
Prospective patients should ask about where the practitioner trained and for how long he or she has been practice, most importantly, what experience the practitioner has had in treating your specific ailment. For example, some medical doctors have over 200 hours of Acupuncture training. Acupuncture is a licensed and regulated health care profession in over 40 states in the U.S. In addition, the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) certifies acupuncturists who have passed the NCCAOM exam and are entitled to add Dipl. Ac. (diplomate of acupuncture) after their name.
Is there anything I need to do before receiving an acupuncture treatment?
The following suggestions will help you get the maximum benefits from your treatment:
- Wear loose clothing. Women should not wear one piece dresses. Avoid wearing stockings.
- Avoid treatment when excessively fatigued, hungry, full, emotionally upset, or shortly after sex.
Is there anything I need to do while receiving acupuncture?
- Relax, there is no need to be frightened. Ask your practitioner any questions you have along the way so that you can get the most benefit possible from the treatment.
- Do not change your position or move suddenly. If you are uncomfortable, tell your practitioner.
What can I expect after treatment?
Patients often experience dramatic results in the first treatment. Some patients experience an immediate total or partial relief of their pain or other symptoms. This relief may last or some pain may return. In a few cases, there may be no immediate relief only to notice the pain diminish over the next couple of days. Generally, you should expect to feel better.