Acupuncture points are located in all areas of the body. Sometimes the appropriate points are far from the area of your pain. Acupuncture involves the insertion of extremely thin needles through your skin at different points on your body. A key component of Traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is most commonly used to treat pain.
What is acupuncture?
Traditional Chinese medicine explains acupuncture as a technique for balancing the flow of energy or life force known as qi or chi, believed to flow through pathways in your body. By inserting needles into specific points along these meridians, acupuncture practitioners believe that your energy flow will re-balance.
Other practitioners view the acupuncture points as places to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue. This stimulation appears to boost the activity of your body's natural painkillers and increase blood flow.
Acupuncture works for a variety of different problems such as;
- Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
- Labor pain
- Low back pain
- Menstrual cramps
- Dental pain
- Tennis elbow
The risks of acupuncture are low if you have a competent, certified acupuncture practitioner.
After acupuncture, you might have soreness and minor bleeding or bruising at the needle sites.
If the needles are pushed in to deeply, they could puncture an internal organ.
Not everyone is a good candidate for acupuncture or for particular types of acupuncture. Conditions that may increase your risks of complications include:
Your chances of bleeding or bruising from the needles increase if you have a bleeding disorder or if you're taking blood thinners.
Some types of acupuncture involve applying mild electrical pulses to the needles, which can interfere with a pacemaker's operation.
What to expect:
Each person who performs acupuncture has a unique style. To determine the type of acupuncture treatment that will help you the most, your practitioner may ask you many questions about your symptoms, behaviors and lifestyle.
The parts of your body that are painful
The shape, coating and color of your tongue
The color of your face
The strength, rhythm and quality of the pulse in your wrist
A common treatment plan would involve six to 12 treatments, scheduled over a few months.
Your acupuncture practitioner will tell you the general location of the planned treatment and if articles of clothing need to be removed. If appropriate, a gown, towel or sheet will be provided to preserve your modesty. After you lie down on a padded table, the treatment begins.
Needle insertion. Acupuncture needles are very thin, so insertion usually causes very little discomfort. Between five and 20 needles are used in a typical treatment. You may feel a deep, aching sensation when a needle reaches the correct depth.
Needle manipulation. Your practitioner may gently move or twirl the needles after they've been placed. Another option is to apply heat or mild electrical pulses to the needles.
Needle removal. In most cases, the needles will remain in place for 10 to 20 minutes while you lie still and relax. There is usually no discomfort when the needles are removed. Your acupuncture practitioner should discard the needles after removal.
Some people feel relaxed while others feel energized after an acupuncture treatment. But not everyone responds to acupuncture. If your symptoms don't improve within a few weeks, acupuncture may not be the right treatment for you.
The benefit of acupuncture is difficult to measure, but many people find it helpful to control a variety of painful conditions. Many people feel more relaxed and relieved from their pain and discomfort after an acupuncture treatment. If you cannot bare your pain anymore, try acupuncture, it might be just what you need.