What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the stimulation of points located along specific lines of the body called meridians. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the system from which acupuncture derives, pain and disease are a result of the disruption of qi, or the life force of energy which regulates or governs the body. Acupuncture is used to regulate or correct the flow of qi.
What does acupuncture treat?
In an effort to determine precisely how acupuncture works, researchers have discovered beneficial immune and endocrine alterations following acupuncture treatment, but the exact mechanisms of action remain elusive.
Science has shown that endorphins are released by acupuncture, but that does not explain all of the effects of acupuncture. One of the well documented effects of acupuncture is in turning breech babies over, the mechanism is unknown.
Neural changes can account for some of the effects. When the needles penetrate the skin they create both an immune response and a stimulation of the sensory fibers of the nerve in that area. The stimulation could help block the pain signal. The immune response brings cellular healing to the affected area. This includes increased blood flow and collagen building blocks.
Stimulation of muscles in spasm may cause an overload condition where the muscle is forced to relax. This also increases blood flow which will generate healing.
Acupuncture is used to treat many conditions including, back and neck pain, headaches, osteoarthritis, musculoskeletal pain, and injury, chronic viral conditions, neurological conditions, GI problems, gynecological issues, asthma, allergies, drug addictions, and insomnia to name a few. The successful treatment of a condition is dependant on many factors and different people get different results. However, most people receive some beneficial effect. Some individuals experience total or partial relief of their pain or symptoms after the first few treatments. Others notice steady, gradual improvement. In some cases, no relief is felt until several days go by. Occasionally, some people actually feel worse before they feel better. Let me know how you respond to each treatment so we can adjust the protocol to meet your ongoing progress.
What about the needles?
Acupuncture needles are very thin, stainless steel, disposable and sterile implements used to puncture the skin to a depth of .5 - 1.5 mm. There are some estimates that 100 million acupuncture needles are used annually at an average of 10 needles per session. When needled properly, the patient will feel sensation at the needled site. The sensation can be described as achy, burning, sharp or stinging. The Chinese describe the sensation as "de qi" , or the arrival of the qi. Once the needles are in for a short time, there is no sensation and many people sleep during the treatment.
Do acupuncturists only use needles?
Acupuncturists may also use adjunctive therapies such as gua sha, moxibustion, cupping or electrical stimulation. Herbs may also be prescribed for certain conditions.
How many treatments will I need?
The treatment length often depends on the duration and severity of the complaint. The outcome is also affected by the individual commitment to the treatment. I recommend giving the acupuncture a month to determine whether it will be of any benefit to you.
How will I feel after acupuncture?
Most people feel very relaxed after treatment with acupuncture. I like to think of this as a healing state. If you are able to slow down for the rest of the day, I think the treatment can be more effective. If the treatment is for pain, any reduction of pain, even for a short period of time is seen as a positive sign. A subsequent treatment may be scheduled to get a cumulative relief from the discomfort. Many people have reduction of pain which returns over 2-5 days. The following treatments are to increase the duration of the relief. Later, patients can return on an as needed or wanted basis.