- What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a means of adjusting the body’s life energy (chi or qi) through the insertion of fine needles into carefully selected acupuncture points along the meridians of the body. The needles, which have a rounded end rather than a sharp cutting one, are inserted into the points and are then manipulated with a gentle pumping action, by twirling or leaving in place for a few minutes. These motions stimulate the flow of energy and remove blockages so that the qi can be dispersed and regulated. When the qi is flowing properly throughout the body, the balance is restored and improved health results.
- How does acupuncture work?
Athough many theories have been presented, there is still no easy answer as to exactly how acupuncture works. The “Gate Control” theory suggests that pain impulses are blocked from reaching the spinal cord or brain at various “gates” to these areas. Since a majority of acupuncture points are either located near, or connected to neural structures, this suggests that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system to “shut the gate” to the sensation of pain. Other theories suggest that acupuncture stimulates the body to produce narcotic like substances such as endorphins and opiods which, when released into the body, relieve pain. One thing is certain, although we may not know precisely how it works, studies have shown that it does work for a large majority of people and conditions.
- Who is acupuncture suitable for?
Acupuncture treatment is suitable for adults and young children.
- How many treatments will I need?
After the initial diagnosis your practitioner will advise you on a treatment plan and this will be reviewed at the end of each treatment. There are no set amount of treatments for any condition.
- Should my doctor know I’m receiving treatment?
It is always advisable that you inform any health practitioners that you are attending that you are receiving other health care therapies and/or medication. When coming to the TCM clinic, please inform your practitioner about possible medication that you might be taking at that time (including prescribed medicine, vitamins, supplements, etc.)
- Is acupuncture safe?
This is a very common question among those who have never experienced an acupuncture treatment. The answer relies on the skill of the practitioner. If he or she is unsure of what they are doing, it is certainly possible to inflict injury with an acupuncture needle. However, when practiced by a licensed, trained acupuncturist, acupuncture is extremely safe and there is no danger whatsoever. The importance of seeking an appropriately trained practitioner cannot be overstated.
- What conditions can acupuncture treat?
Acupuncture is particularly effective for pain relief and for nausea and vomiting after surgery or chemotherapy. In addition, both the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health recognize that acupuncture can be a helpful part of a treatment plan for many illnesses. A partial list includes: addiction (such as alcoholism), asthma, bronchitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, facial tics, fibromyalgia, headaches, irregular menstrual cycles, polycystic ovarian syndrome, low back pain, menopausal symptoms, menstrual cramps, osteoarthritis, sinusitis, spastic colon (often called irritable bowel syndrome), stroke rehabilitation, tendinitis, tennis elbow, and urinary problems such as incontinence. You can safely combine acupuncture with prescription drugs and other conventional treatments, but it is important for your primary care physician to be aware of and monitor how your acupuncture treatment may be affecting your conventional therapies.
The American Academy of Medical Acupuncture also lists a wide range of conditions for which acupuncture is appropriate. In addition to those listed above, they recommend acupuncture for sports injuries, sprains, strains, whiplash, neck pain, sciatica, nerve pain due to compression, overuse syndromes similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, pain resulting from spinal cord injuries, allergies, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), sore throat (called pharyngitis), high blood pressure, gastroesophageal reflux (felt as heartburn or indigestion), ulcers, chronic and recurrent bladder and kidney infections, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), infertility, endometriosis, anorexia, memory problems, insomnia, multiple sclerosis, sensory disturbances, drug detoxification, depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders.