Acupuncture- General Medicine/ Check Up, Physical Medicine And Rehabilitation

Acupuncture uses tiny needles that are inserted under the skin at strategic body points. This is a crucial component of traditional Chinese medicine and is frequently used to relieve pain. Also, it is used more frequently for overall wellness, which includes stress relief.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is a technique for controlling the flow of chi or qi (chee), which is believed to travel via meridian routes in your body.

Acupuncture practitioners – sometimes called acupuncturists believe that by inserting needles at specific points along these meridians, your energy flow will return to equilibrium.

On the contrary, many Western practitioners consider acupuncture points to be sites where connective tissue, muscles, and nerves can be stimulated. Some claim that this stimulation raises your body's production of its own painkillers.

How Common Is Acupuncture?

The World Health Organization reports that 103 of the 129 nations that submitted data also utilize acupuncture. In addition, according to data from the National Health Interview Survey, the number of Americans using acupuncture increased by 50% between 2002 and 2012. In 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, 6.4% of American adults reported having used acupuncture, and 1.7% said they had done so during the previous 12 months.

What Are The Conditions Treated By Acupuncture?

Acupuncturists apply acupuncture to relieve discomfort from the following conditions:

  • Arthritis
  • Knee pain
  • Headaches, including migraines and chronic tension-type headaches
  • Back pain, neck pain, or muscle pain
  • Sports injuries
  • Dental pain
  • Menstrual cramps

Other conditions where acupuncture may be helpful include:

  • Problems with the Immune system
  • Cancer and side-effects from the treatment
  • Post-operative pain
  • Nausea
  • Repetitive strain disorders and overuse syndrome
  • Menopause and hot flashes
  • Infertility
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Face pain and other nerve discomforts
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Fatigue
  • Pregnancy discomforts and labor pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Tendinopathy
  • Tennis elbow
  • Respiratory disorders, such as allergic rhinitis

How Does Acupuncture Work?

The energy that runs through the body is referred to as qi in Chinese medicine. Practitioners of Chinese medicine believe that interruptions of qi result in energy imbalances in the body, which cause disease.

Various acupuncture techniques use needles to prick acupuncture points (also known as acupoints) on different body parts to restore qi equilibrium. The body has hundreds of acupoints located along 14 major meridians, often known as energy pathways.

The needles stimulate the body's natural mechanisms to:

  • Reset the body's balance
  • Respond to a disease or symptom
  • Release natural chemicals, including endorphins, the body's natural painkillers and neurotransmitters, which regulate nerve impulses.

The Science Behind Acupuncture

Evidence suggests that acupuncture may have nonspecific (placebo) effects and impacts on other body tissues, the neurological system, and other organs. Acupuncture may affect how the nervous system functions, according to research done on both humans and animals, including trials that employed imaging techniques to see what was happening in the brain.

The tissues where the needles are put may directly experience the benefits of acupuncture. Connective tissue has shown this kind of effect.

Acupuncture's effects are nonspecific (effects brought on by a treatment's incidental components rather than its primary mode of action). For example, nonspecific side effects could be brought about by the patient's faith in the therapy, the doctor-patient dynamic, or other variables unrelated to using needles.

The benefit of acupuncture has frequently been found to be more significant when compared to no therapy than sham (simulated or phony) acupuncture procedures, such as using a device that pokes the skin but does not pierce it. These results imply that nonspecific effects help acupuncture positively impact pain or other symptoms.

A nonspecific impact was recently demonstrated unconventionally: Patients who previously had pain alleviation with acupuncture were given a video of that session and instructed to picture the treatment taking place once more. This video-guided imaging method effectively reduced discomfort.

Benefits Of Acupuncture

Acupuncture has the following benefits:

  • It is a versatile treatment method that can address several health issues concurrently.
  • Acupuncture and other therapies can be successfully used together
  • It can effectively treat headaches, migraines, and chronic pain
  • The risk of side effects with acupuncture is minimal

Risks Associated With Acupuncture

The risks are minimal if you receive acupuncture from a qualified, licensed practitioner who uses sterile needles. Acupuncture needles are subject to FDA regulation in the United States.

All needles must be made of steel, sterile, solid, nontoxic, and appropriately labeled, according to the organization. In addition, acupuncture needles may only be used by licensed experts. Practitioners discard the needles after one use.

It can be hazardous to receive acupuncture from unqualified professionals. Infections, damage to the central nervous system, and organ punctures can all be brought on by inexperienced medical personnel or those who use needles that are not sterile.

Slight bleeding, soreness, or bruises where the needles were placed are typical side effects. However, as single-use, disposable needles are now the norm, there is little chance of infection.

Rarely, some persons have minor, transient side effects like pain where the needles puncture the skin, drowsiness, feeling ill, dizziness or fainting, and worsening of pre-existing symptoms.

Acupuncture is not appropriate for everyone. Make sure to inform the acupuncturist if you have the following conditions before beginning treatment:

A bleeding condition:  If you are on blood thinners or suffer from a bleeding disorder, your risk of bleeding or bruising from the needles may be increased.

A pacemaker: Acupuncture that uses light electrical pulses on the needles may affect how a pacemaker functions.

Pregnancy: Certain acupuncture points may induce labor, which could lead to premature delivery.

What To Expect

Each acupuncture practitioner has a distinct style that combines elements of eastern and western schools of medicine. Your practitioner may ask about your symptoms, behaviors, and lifestyle to establish the type of acupuncture therapy that will benefit you the best. They would usually pay attention to the following:

  • The areas of your body that hurt
  • The color of your face
  • The texture, coating, color, and shape of your tongue
  • The intensity, timing, and nature of your pulse

Although some sessions can be substantially shorter, an acupuncture treatment can last up to 60 minutes. One or two treatments per week are part of a regular treatment regimen for a specific complaint. The severity and kind of the illness being treated will determine how many treatments are necessary. Six to eight treatments are typical, on average.

Here is what you can expect during and after the procedure:

During the procedure

There are acupuncture points all across the body. The right places, however, might only sometimes be close to the area of pain. Your acupuncturist will let you know where the treatment will take place and whether you need to undress. A towel, gown, or sheet will be available. You will receive treatment while lying on a cushioned table.

The treatment involves:

1. Inserting the needles:

Acupuncture needles are inserted at various depths of the body at strategic points. Since the needles are very thin, insertion usually does not cause much discomfort.

Most of the time, people don't feel that the needle is inserted. Five to twenty needles are typically used in a single setting. When a needle is inserted correctly, you can experience a slight aching feeling.

Each needle may cause a slight prick to your skin. However, it hurts less than getting a shot or having blood drawn, for example. In addition, acupuncture needles are substantially thinner than medical needles, which are solid rather than hollow.

Muscle sensations from the needles, such as dull pain or tingling, are possible. Your healthcare provider will want you to report any instances of extreme heaviness or numbness. Such feelings are typically signs that the treatment is working.

2. Manipulating the needles:

After the needles have been inserted, your practitioner may gently twist or twirl them and apply heat or brief electrical pulses.

3. Removing the needles:

The needles usually stay in place for 10 to 15 minutes while lying still and relaxing. Usually, there is little pain when the needles are taken out.

After the procedure

Following an acupuncture session, some people feel relaxed, while others feel more invigorated. Acupuncture, however, does not work on everyone. Also, it might not be for you if your symptoms do not improve within a few weeks.


Although measuring the benefits of acupuncture can be challenging, many people find it effective for managing a range of painful issues.

According to several studies, some forms of virtual acupuncture may be just as effective as actual acupuncture. In addition, there is evidence that acupuncture works best in patients who anticipate positive results.

If you are facing problems managing pain with more traditional approaches, acupuncture may be worth a try because it has few side effects.

Things To Consider

A person should consult a primary care physician before using acupuncture to alleviate chronic pain or other problems. In some countries, acupuncturists themselves might be primary care physicians. However, acupuncture is a complementary therapy and should not replace treatments suggested by a doctor.

To read about Acupuncture as one of the treatment options for Posterior Tibial Tendinitis, please click here.


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