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Acupuncture FAQ:  ACUPUNCTURE: WHAT IS IT?



Acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and to improve functioning. This is done by inserting needles and applying heat or electrical stimulation at very precise points on the body. 


HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK?

The classical Chinese explanation is that channels of energy run in regular patterns through the body and over its surface. These energy channels, called meridians, are like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues. An obstruction in the movement of these energy rivers is like a dam that backs up in others. 

The meridians can be influenced by needling the acupuncture points; the acupuncture needles unblock the obstructions at the dams, and reestablish the regular flow through the meridians. Acupuncture treatments can therefore help the body's internal organs to correct imbalances in their digestion, absorption, and energy production activities, and in the circulation of their energy through the meridians.



















The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body's own internal regulating system.



The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body's natural healing abilities, and in promoting physical and emotional well-being.





 

WHO PRACTICES ACUPUNCTURE?



Acupuncture is a very old medical art, and there are many approaches to learning and practicing it. Acupuncture is the term used to describe acupuncture performed by a highly skilled and licensed professional who has also had thorough training in acupuncture as a specialty practice.















WHAT IS THE SCOPE OF ACUPUNCTURE?



Acupuncture is a system which can influence three areas of health care:

promotion of health and well-being, prevention of illness, treatment of various medical conditions.

While acupuncture is often associated with pain control, in the hands of a well-trained practitioner it has much broader applications. Acupuncture can be effective as the only treatment used, or as the support or adjunct to other medial treatment forms in many medical and surgical disorders.



 

The World Health Organization recognizes the use of acupuncture in the treatment of a wide range of medical problems.

 



Conditions Recommended for Acupuncture by the World Health Organization (W.H.O.):



Respiratory Diseases

Acute sinusitis Acute rhinitis Common cold Acute tonsillitis

Bronchopulmonary Diseases

Acute bronchitis Bronchial asthma

Eye Disorders

Acute conjunctivitis Cataract (without complications) Myopia Central retinitis

Disorders of the Mouth Cavity

Toothache Pain after tooth extraction Gingivitis Pharyngitis

Orthopedic Disorders

Periarthritis humeroscapularis Tennis elbow Sciatica Low back pain Rheumatoid arthritis

Gastrointestinal Disorders

Spasm of the esophagus and cardia Hiccups Gastroptosis Acute and chronic gastritis Gastric hyperacidity Chronic duodenal ulcer Acute and chronic colitis Acute bacterial dysentery Constipation Diarrhea Paralytic ileus

Neurological Disorders-

Headache Migraine

Trigeminal neuralgiaFacial paralysis Paralysis after apoplectic fit Peripheral neuropathy Paralysis caused by poliomyelitis Meniere's syndrome Neurogenic bladder dysfunction Nocturnal enuresis Intercostal neuralgia

Urinary and Reproductive Disorders-

Cystitis Menstrual cramps Irregular or heavy periods Infertility Menopausal symptoms


Immune Function

Recurrent infections Supportive treatment for cancer and AIDS patients.

Addictions

Addictions to nicotine, alcohol and drugs.

Depression, Anxiety & Insomnia



Acupuncture is particularly useful in resolving physical problems related to tension and stress and emotional conditions.   


HOW MANY TREATMENTS WILL I NEED?

The number of treatments needed differs from person to person. For complex or long-standing conditions, one or two treatments a week for several months may be recommended. For acute problems, usually fewer visits are required. 


ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS TO THE TREATMENT?

Usually not. As energy is redirected in the body, internal chemicals and hormones are stimulated and healing begins to take place. Occasionally the original symptoms worsen for a few days, or other general changes in appetite, sleep, bowel or urination patterns, or emotional state may be triggered. These should not cause concern, as they are simply indications that the acupuncture is starting to work. It is quite common with the first one or two treatments to have a sensation of deep relaxation or even mild disorientation immediately following the treatment. These pass within a short time, and never require anything more than a bit of rest to overcome.


WHAT ARE THE NEEDLES LIKE? DO THEY HURT?

People experience acupuncture differently. Most patients feel only minimal pain as the needles are inserted; some feel no pain at all. Once the needles are in place, there is no pain felt. Acupuncture needles are very thin and solid and are made from stainless steel. The point is smooth (not hollow with cutting edges like a hypodermic needle) and insertion through the skin is not as painful as injections or blood sampling. The risk of bruising and skin irritation is less than when using a hollow needle.


Disposable needles have become the standard practice so there are very few risks of infection from the treatments. 


DOES ACUPUNCTURE REALLY WORK?

Yes. In the past 2,000 years, more people have been successfully treated with acupuncture than with all other health modalities combined. Today acupuncture is practiced widely in Asia, the Soviet Union, and in Europe. It is now being used more and more in America by patients and physicians. Acupuncture treatments can be given at the same time other techniques are being used, such as conventional Western medicine, osteopathic or chiropractic adjustment. It is important that your acupuncturist know everything that you are doing, so he or she can help you get the most benefit from all your treatments.


DO I HAVE TO BELIEVE IN ACUPUNCTURE FOR IT TO WORK?


No. Acupuncture is used successfully on cats, dogs, horses and other animals. These animal patients do not understand or believe in the process that helps them get better. A positive attitude toward wellness may reinforce the effects of the treatment received, just as a negative attitude may hinder the effects of acupuncture or any other treatment. A neutral attitude ("I don't know if I really believe in this.") will not block the treatment results. 



THE "DO'S AND DONT'S" ON THE DAY OF A TREATMENT:


To enhance the treatment, the following guidelines are important:

Do not eat a large meal immediately before or after your treatment. Do not over-exercise, engage in sexual activity, or consume alcoholic beverages within 6 hours before or after the treatment. Plan your activities so that after the treatment you can get some rest, or at least not have to be working at top performance. Continue to take any prescription medicines as directed by your regular doctor. Substance abuse (drugs and alcohol) especially in the week prior to treatment will seriously interfere with the effectiveness of acupuncture treatments. Keep good mental or written notes of what your response is to the treatment. This is important  to know so that the follow-up treatments can be designed to best help you and your problem 


Can acupuncture really help my condition?
The best answer will come from an experienced practitioner. The practitioner, based on your medical history, condition, and what other treatments you have been or are receiving, can best help you decide whether acupuncture is suitable by itself or as adjunctive therapy.


How does the acupuncturist manage infection control?
Acupuncturists are required by law in most states to use disposable one-time-use sterilized needles. 

 
What is an acupuncture treatment like?
This is difficult to say because of the wide variations in the styles of acupuncture performed. Generally three to fifteen needles will be placed at specific points on the body.  Costs vary depending on locale and practitioners training and experience.