Acupuncture can be used to treat many ailments, from pain management to vertigo. It is one of the oldest healing arts that originated in the region of China thousands of years ago. Acupuncture can be used as a sole treatment, or it can be used in combination with other treatments (surgery, medicine, chiropractic).
The philosophy of an acupuncturist is that illness is a result of interference with the body’s natural flow of energy (qi), which leads to an imbalance of forces within the body (yin and yang). The goal is to regain the balance within the body and acupuncturists will use various methods to achieve this goal. The most notable method is the use of an acupuncture needle through the skin. An acupuncturist may also use herbs, cups, moxa, gua-sha, tui-na, diet, and exercise to bring the patient’s body back into balance.
All acupuncturists have different styles but you can expect that during a visit you will have an exam to assess the imbalance which may be causing your symptoms. This exam will include a history, physical exam, and inspection of your tongue and pulse. If acupuncture is thought to benefit your imbalance, then you will lay comfortably as the practitioner inserts the needles. Usually the placement of needles is not painful. In some cases you will feel a sharp sensation upon needle insertion. You may also feel a heavy sensation once the needle reaches the desired location depth. Once needle insertion is complete treatments last approximately 20-30 minutes.
Acupuncture has been shown to help many conditions. Although acupuncture is a non-invasive, and non-drug therapy there still are some risks involved. If you have a bleeding disorder, acupuncture might not suit you. There might be some pain and soreness where the needles are placed. After removal, there may be bleeding or bruising at the needle site. More serious risks can result, but these risks are low when acupuncture is performed by a competent, certified practitioner.
Although acupuncture is a very old healing art it has been studied and refined into the form you see used today. More and more research is coming out validating the efficacy of acupuncture for many conditions and symptoms. Western scientists are working on discovering what exactly makes acupuncture so effective and why.
Remember that this information is for educational purposes only. Seek the advice of a health specialist before making any changes to your healthcare.