What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an age-old healing practice of traditional Chinese medicine. The 3000 year old holistic science of treatment uses thin needles placed at specific points in the body. The primary function is used to relieve pain but also has been used to treat other conditions. The therapeutic effects are been tried in countries all over the world.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on an ancient philosophy that describes the universe and the body, in two forces ying and yang. When these opposing forces are in balance, the body is healthy. Energy, called “qi” (pronounced chee) is the vital source of energy flowing through the body. The flow keeps the forces in balance. If the flow is blocked that leads to a disruption in body functions that leads to illness. Acupuncture therapy can release blocked qi and stimulate function.
How Acupuncture works
Acupuncture seeks to release the flow of the body’s vital energy. The ultra-thin needles are pierced in the body at stimulating points along 14 energy pathways. Scientists say the needles cause the body to release endorphins, natural painkillers that eliminate pain and promotes wellbeing.
Does Acupuncture Hurt?
Acupuncture needles are very thin, and most people feel no pain or very little pain when they are inserted. The needles can cause temporary soreness.
Acupuncture for low-back pain
Acupuncture does their trick to relieve back pain. Scientific studies have indicated that the treatments of the therapeutic needles relives pain. A new study has also revealed that sham acupuncture works just as well as real acupuncture for back pain. Placing needles in locations not associated with traditional treatment points as could be having an effect, or it could mean that the effects of acupuncture may be due in part to a placebo effect.
The research on acupuncture is growing, but interpreting it is still a challenge. For now, most studies seem to indicate that, for most people, acupuncture results in some beneficial effect with a low risk of side effects when provided by a well-trained practitioner.
Acupuncture for Headaches
Acupuncture is an effective treatments for headaches. Headaches can be classified as primary headaches and secondary headaches. Acupuncture works for both. Needles are inserted in points above eyebrows and along the nose. Acupuncture works to relieve pain for migraine headaches, but also works very well with tension headaches, cluster headaches, post-traumatic headaches, and disease-related headaches that might be due to sinus problems, high blood pressure or sleeping disorders. The greatest advantage of acupuncture over Western medicine is that it does virtually no harm.
Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a medical condition characterized by chronic widespread pain, joint stiffness, numbness and tingling and cognitive dysfunction. Researchers estimate that the majority of fibromyalgia patients try alternative treatments to relieve their symptoms. The ancient Chinese needle practice, acupuncture is one that can help. Acupuncture reduces many types of chronic pain. While the studies on the effectiveness of acupuncture for fibromyalgia symptoms are somewhat mixed, most suggest that it may have a beneficial role.
Acupuncture for Arthritis pain
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases state that acupuncture has been effective in treating arthritis pain. Early research has shown acupuncture eased arthritis pain in the knee. Arthritis is a pervasive disease that causes pain and inflammation in joints and can be widely spread throughout the body. The fine needles inserted in the right points relieve pain by diverting or changing the painful sensations that are sent to your brain from damaged tissues and by stimulating your body’s own pain-relieving hormones (endorphins and encephalins).
Acupuncture for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a painful condition of the hand and fingers caused by compression of a major nerve. The median nerve where it passes over the carpal bones through a passage at the front of the wrist is in chronic pain. The fine needles stimulate the point and relieves agony. Acupuncture was tested and compared with steroid pills for the hand and arm pain of carpal tunnel syndrome. Researchers have found positive results. While studies like this have been promising, more evidence is still needed to confirm that acupuncture is effective for carpal tunnel syndrome.
Acupuncture for Dental Pain
Dental pain is considered by many to be one of the conditions that responds to acupuncture. The needle insertions provides relief from the pain of tooth extraction or dental surgery, but so does fake insertions.
Acupuncture for Other Pain
World Health Organization lists 28 different conditions that are sometimes treated with acupuncture. A review by the National Institutes of Health called for robust research to verify the promise that acupuncture holds for many different conditions. The conditions that have actually worked are neck pain, muscle pain, tennis elbow, and menstrual cramps. The treatment is also done to avoid medications and their side effects.
Acupuncture a boost for pain medicine
Acupuncture may provide added pain relief when it is used along with pain medicine or another therapy, such as massage. The therapeutic needle treatment can reduce the need for drugs and improve the quality of life of people suffering from chronic pain.
Acupuncture for Nausea
Acupuncture works effectively to stop nausea and vomiting. At the pericardium (P6) acupuncture point on the wrist, acupuncture needles are inserted and they can reduce the symptoms of nausea and vomiting, even after cancer drug treatments or surgery. Studies compared 10 different acupuncture methods including needles, electrical stimulation, and acupressure to drugs that block nausea or vomiting and found that the ancient Chinese needle treatments worked.
Acupuncture and Cancer Care
Because acupuncture can lessen pain, nausea, and vomiting, it is sometimes used to help people cope with symptoms of cancer or chemotherapy. It also can help manage hot flashes associated with breast cancer. Be sure to talk to your doctor first and seek a practitioner who has experience working with cancer patients.
Acupuncture and Fertility
A review of medical studies backs up the fact that acupuncture may boost the effectiveness of fertility treatments. One theory holds that acupuncture helps by reducing stress and increasing blood flow to the ovaries. Celebrities such as Celine Dion and Mariah Carey credit the ancient healing techniques along with infertility treatments.
Acupuncture to Quit Smoking?
Acupuncture has been used for a variety of other conditions, including smoking cessation, insomnia, fatigue, depression, and allergies. The evidence is mixed at best for some uses of acupuncture. For smoking, studies found that acupuncture needles placed in the outer ear do not work.
Acupuncture and Children
Acupuncture is generally considered to be safe for children, as long as you are using a licensed practitioner who follows recommended standards of practice. Acupuncture is primarily used to control pain or nausea and vomiting after surgery or cancer drug treatment. Scientific evidence does not support the use of acupuncture to treat attention deficit hyperactivity.
When to consider Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a potential alternative to pain medications or steroid treatments. It is also considered a complementary therapy that can be used along with other treatments. It is best to discuss the use of acupuncture with your health care provider.
Although acupuncture is generally safe and serious problems are rare, there are some risks. In some acupuncture points, needles inserted too deeply can puncture internal organs or cause problems with your blood vessels. That is why it is vital to use a practitioner who is well trained in acupuncture.
Who should not use Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is not advised to people with bleeding disorders or who take blood thinners may have increased risk of bleeding. Electrical stimulation of the needles can cause problems for people with pacemakers or other electrical devices. Pregnant women should talk with their health care provider before having acupuncture. It’s important not to skip conventional medical care or rely on acupuncture alone to treat diseases or severe pain.
Acupuncture and its variations
Acupuncture is basically insertion of needles but various therapies use a different way of stimulating the acupuncture points. Moxibustion involves the burning of moxa, a bundle of dried mugwort and wormwood leaves, which can then be used to heat the acupuncture needles to warm the skin. Electro-acupuncture adds electrical stimulation to the needles. Another recent variation uses laser needles that are placed on the skin not in it.
Acupuncture VS Acupressure
If you are afraid of needles, you may be able to get much of the same effect from acupressure. Acupressure involves pressing or massaging the acupuncture points to stimulate energy pathways. Scientific comparisons of acupressure and acupuncture are limited, but acupressure has been shown to be effective in reducing nausea and lessening labor pain.