WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE?
Acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and improve functioning. This is done by inserting sterile stainless steel needles and applying heat or electrical stimulation at very precise acupuncture points.
HOW DOES ACUPUCTURE WORK?
The classical Chinese explanation is that channels of energy run in regular patterns through the body and over its surface. These energy channels, called meridians, are like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues. An obstruction of the movement in these energy rivers is like a dam that backs up in others.
Meridians can be influenced by needling acupuncture points. The acupuncture needles unblock the obstruction at the dams and reestablish the regular flow through the meridians. Acupuncture treatments can help the body’s internal organs to correct imbalances in their digestion, absorption and energy production activities as well as circulation of energy through the meridians.
The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body’s own internal regulating system.
The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture promotes the body’s natural healing ability and physical and emotional well-being.
WHAT IS THE SCOPE OF ACUPUNCTURE?
Acupuncture is a system that can influence three areas of healthcare:
Promotion of health and well being.
Prevention of illness.
Treatment of various medical conditions.
While acupuncture is often associated with pain control it has much broader applications. Acupuncture can be effective as the only treatment used or as the support to other medical treatment forms in many medical and surgical disorders. The World Health Organization recognizes the use of acupuncture in a wide range of medical problems including:
Digestive disorders: gastritis and acid reflux, spastic colon, constipation and diarrhea.
Respiratory disorders: sinusitis, sore throat, bronchitis, asthma and recurrent chest infections.
Neurological and Muscular disorders: headaches, facial tics, neck pain, rib neuritis, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, various forms of tendonitis, low back pain and sciatica.
Urinary, Menstrual and Reproductive disorders.
Acupuncture is particularly useful in resolving physical problems related to tension, stress and emotional conditions.
HOW MANY TREATMENTS WILL I NEED?
The number of treatments needed differs from person to person. For complex or long-standing conditions a longer period of treatment may be required. For acute conditions, fewer visits are required. For health maintenance, four sessions a year at the change of season may be all that is necessary.
ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS TO TREATMENT?
Usually not. As energy is redirected in the body changes take place. Occasionally the original symptoms worsen for a few days as other changes may be triggered such as change in appetite, bowel or urination patterns, sleep or emotional state. This should not cause concern but may be taken as a sign that the acupuncture is starting to work. It is quite common with the first few treatments to have a sensation of deep relaxation or even mild disorientation immediately following treatment. This passes within a short time and requires only a bit of rest to overcome.
WHAT ARE THE NEEDLES LIKE? DO THEY HURT?
People experience needling differently. Most patients feel only minimal pain as the needles are inserted and more often feel no pain at all. Once the needles are in place no pain is felt. Manipulation of a needle after it has been inserted can cause a distending sensation or pulsating feeling at the insertion but that is the intent of the practitioner in stimulating a certain point or meridian.
Acupuncture needles are thin and solid body needles made from stainless steel. The point is smooth (not hollow with cutting edges like a hypodermic needle) and insertion through the skin is not painful as with injections or blood sampling. The risk of bruising and skin irritation is less than when using a hollow needle. Needles are pre-packaged, sterile and disposable. They are never used twice and always discarded in a medical waste container after use.
DOES ACUPUNCTURE REALLY WORK?
Yes. In the past 2000 years more people have been successfully treated with acupuncture than all the other health modalities combined! Today acupuncture is widely practiced in Asia and Europe and in the last 25 years has become accepted in the United States as a viable health modality. Acupuncture treatments can be given at the same time as other techniques are being used such as conventional Western Medicine, chiropractic or osteopathic adjustments and homeopathic and naturopathic prescriptions. It is important for your acupuncturist to know all the treatment you are getting to help you get the most benefit from your treatment.
DO I HAVE TO BELIEVE IN ACUPUNCTURE FOR IT TO WORK?
No. Acupuncture is used successfully on cats, dogs, horses and other animals. These patients do not understand or believe in the process that helps them get better. A positive attitude toward wellness may reinforce the effects of the treatment received, just as a negative attitude may hinder the effects of acupuncture or any other treatment.
ARE THERE ANY DO’S AND DON’TS FOR ME ON THE DAY OF TREATMENT?
Yes. To enhance the value of a treatment, the following guidelines are important:
Do not eat an unusually large meal before or after treatment. Do not consume alcoholic beverages within 6 hours before or after treatment.
Do not over exercise within 6 hours before or after treatment.
Plan your activities so that you do not have to be working at peak performance for a couple of hours after treatment.
Continue to take prescription medications as directed by your regular doctor.
Substance abuse will seriously interfere with the effectiveness of acupuncture treatment.
Try and keep a mental or written record of your response to treatment. It is important for your acupuncturist to have this information to continue to direct your treatment for the best result in treating your ailment.