Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that has been practiced for centuries. It is based on the theory that energy, called chi, flows through and around your body along pathways called meridians. Acupuncturists believe that illness happens when something blocks or unbalnces your chi. They state that it is a way to unblock or influence chi and help it flow back into balance. Acupuncture is done by sticking very thin needles into the skin at certain points on the body. This is done to influence the energy flow. Ocassionaly, heat, pressure, or mild electrical current is used along with needles. I have never personally received acupuncture, but have witnessed my mom receiving it before. I am hoping with this blog to tell you what happens during acupuncture and hopefully teach you something new about this interesting treatment.
Receiving acupuncture usually starts out with an exam and the provider will ask questions about your pain and how well you are functioning. He or she will also ask about your overall health. Then your provider will look for the places (called points) on your body to access the chi that is blocked or not flowing right. Each of the points relates to certain health problems or body functions. Your provider will look for landmarks on your body-using certain muscles or bones, for example-to find the points so that he or she can place the needles. After the provider finds the points, he or she will quickly tap very thin needles into your skin. He or she will probably place several needles. Some may be placed deeper than others, depending on what the provider believes is needed to restore the flow of chi.
You may feel slight pressure when a needle goes in. Most people find that it doesn’t hurt. The area may tingle, feel numb, itch, or be a little sore. Providers believe that this is a sign that the energy flow, or chi, has been accessed. After the needle is placed, your provider may roll the needle slightly back and forth. Or he or she may use heat or electrical current on the needle.
People use acupuncture to relieve pain and treat certain health conditions. You can use it by itself or as part of a treatment program. Studies have found promising results for the use of acupuncture to treat nausea and vomiting related to pregnancy, chemotherapy, and postsurgery pain. Acupuncture also may be useful for:
- Stroke rehabilitation, which involves relearning skills that a person lost because of brain damage from a stroke.
- Headache. A study shows that adding acupuncture to standard treatment leads to significant, long-lasting relief from chronic headaches, especially migraines
- Menstrual cramps.
- Tennis elbow.
- Fibromyalgia, or widespread pain and tenderness of muscle and soft tissue.
- Myofascial pain, caused by spasm in the muscles.