Your Guide to Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a treatment option that focuses on the body as a whole. Traditional Chinese medicine describes the importance of balance when harmonizing the mind and body. By understanding unique pathways in the body, energy can be guided through specific pressure points. Acupuncture involves using needles located in these specific pressure points to help restore balance.

Why Do People Use Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is used to treat discomfort and pain from a variety of conditions. While it does not cure diseases or viruses, it can alleviate anxiety and pain that may stem from those conditions. Acupuncture is often used in conjunction with Western treatment options and/or medication.

Conditions that acupuncture can help treat include:

-Dental pain

-Migraines

-Lower back pain

-Neck pain

-Menstrual cramps

-Certain respiratory disorders

-Nausea

Acupuncture can also help reduce stress by releasing endorphins to the brain. By stimulating the central nervous system, acupuncture can release chemicals that trigger how a person feels anger, pain and anxious situations. Some studies suggest that acupuncture used on a long-term basis may treat hypertension.

Acupuncture As A Treatment

Acupuncture is the practice of inserting extremely thin needles through strategic points in the skin. These pressure points can be found throughout the body.

Common pressure points include:

-Between the thumb and forefinger

-Just above the inner anklebone

-Above the big toe

Other pressure points can be found in the hand and ears. When using these pressure points, many people find relief from physical pain. There are few risks that result from acupuncture as long as it is administered by a trained professional. Those who should not use acupuncture include people afflicted with blood disorders, pregnant women and anyone with a pacemaker.

While no special preparation is necessary when seeing an acupuncturist, knowing how to choose a proper practitioner is important. There are several ways clients can find reputable practitioners including recommendations, online databases and local businesses.

When looking for a practitioner, understanding their credentials is crucial. A practitioner should be trained. Many states require a national certification exam before practicing. If there are lingering questions about their practice, interviewing the practitioner may be helpful.

Sample interview questions can include:

How long have you been practicing?

Where did you train?

Did you intern or have an apprenticeship?

How do you sanitize your needles?

Which pressure points do you find most useful?

Is It Painful?

Many people want to know if acupuncture is a painful practice. Because the use of needles is involved during treatment, this is a natural concern. Although pressure points are reached by using needles, the needles themselves are extremely thin. Acupuncture needles are not like most other needles. Most people describe the process of acupuncture as feeling a prick or a tickle.

Before getting started, an acupuncturist will likely ask you about specific body parts that may play a role in your condition. If there are any painful areas of the body, this can be noted before treatment. They may also examine the shape or color of your tongue, facial color and your pulse.

Acupuncture needles can be inserted at varying depths. Depending on the condition and the area of the body being treated, some needles may barely penetrate the surface of the skin. The number of needles used can greatly vary. Some acupuncturists may only need to use five or ten needles while others may use twenty. This can be discussed before treatment in case a client would rather use more or less.

Once needles are inserted, the acupuncturist carefully manipulates the needles. Heat may be added depending on the practitioners method. Since the needles are quite thin, this process does not usually cause discomfort for the client. Manual manipulation of the needles can be done in front of the client and if at any point this process feels uncomfortable, the practitioner can immediately stop.

Does It Work?

Once the needles have been removed, a client usually feels calm and relaxed. While it does not usually cure medical conditions, it can help alleviate discomfort. Both physical pain and stress can successfully be treated with acupuncture.