Acupuncture is a Traditional Chinese Medicine technique that has been utilized for thousands of years. It is the belief that energy (known as Qi), flows throughout our bodies via channels (known as meridians). There are 20 different channels, 12 standard, and 8 extraordinary channels, that run throughout our bodies. There are about 400 points specific points located along these channels. Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that disease is present when there is an imbalance of Qi (not enough, too much, or a blockage). Acupuncture uses sterile, thin needles to stimulate specific points along the channels (meridians) to help balance the body’s energy.
Recent studies suggest that acupuncture causes the brain to release pain-relieving hormones (serotonin, endorphins, and enkephalins); which makes acupuncture a great use for pain management. In addition, studies show that acupuncture can increase blood flow and stimulate immune cell production which is vital to the bodies healing process. Acupuncture has been shown to help manage a variety of conditions including: back pain, neck pain, tendonitis, migraines, carpal tunnel, PMS, fibromyalgia, arthritis, sinusitis,stress reduction and many more. Acupuncture has also been used to help people quit smoking and aid in weight loss. In addition, the World Health Organization recognizes the use of acupuncture of the treatment of over 90 symptoms/conditions.
One question on many peoples minds is does it hurt? When we think of the term “needle” we tend to associate it with getting a shot. Acupuncture needles however are much different then the needles used in an injection. First, acupuncture needles are significantly thinner. Second, acupuncture needles are solid and do not tear or rip the skin. Therefore, acupuncture is not the same as getting a shot. Most patients do not feel acupuncture needles.
Another major questions arises about acupuncture, is it safe? As a natural alternative therapy, acupuncture is very safe. Very few complications from acupuncture have been reported to the FDA compared to the millions of people who have been treated with acupuncture each year. Most of the complications are caused by inadequate sterilization and not following clean needle technique protocol.