What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the insertion of very thin needles into specific points that treat certain health problems. Chinese doctors have spent over two thousand years mapping out the locations of these points, and modern electromagnetic research confirms their locations.
Acupuncture needles are inserted in order to access the flow of “qi” (energy) and blood, insuring their smooth flow throughout the body. According to Chinese medical theory, qi and blood are said to flow through meridians, or pathways that cover the body. Qi and blood can be in excess in certain parts of the body, in which case they may get ‘stuck’ and cause pain. In other parts of the body, qi and blood may be deficient, causing weakness and fatigue. Acupuncture helps the qi and blood to flow freely throughout the body, thereby bringing the body into balance.
How does it work?
Many theories have been presented as to how acupuncture exerts its effects. The “Gate Control” theory suggests that pain impulses are blocked from reaching the spinal cord or brain at various “gates” to these areas.Since a majority of acupuncture points are either located near, or connected to nerve structures, this suggests that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system to “shut the gate” to the sensation of pain. Other theories suggest that acupuncture stimulates the body to produce natural narcotic like substances such as endorphins and opioids which, when released into the body, relieve pain. Although the exact mechanism of acupuncture is still being studied, research has demonstrated its effectiveness. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes acupuncture as an effective treatment for about four dozen conditions.
Does it hurt?
The needles used for acupuncture are very different from the hypodermic needles used for injection. Acupuncture needles have a solid shaft and are very fine. As such, the sensation of receiving an acupuncture treatment is not painful. Generally, the feeling is more of a mild tingling or deep soreness. Following treatment it is common to feel a tremendous sense of relaxation, and/or exhilaration.
Is it safe?
This is a very common question among those who have never experienced an acupuncture treatment. The answer relies on the skill of the practitioner. If he or she is unsure of what they are doing, it is certainly possible to inflict injury with an acupuncture needle. However, when practiced by a licensed, trained acupuncturist, acupuncture is extremely safe and there is no danger whatsoever. The importance of seeking an appropriately trained practitioner cannot be overstated.
Are there any side effects or complications?
As previously mentioned, acupuncture is an extremely safe method of treatment, and as such, side effects and complications are extremely rare when treated by an experienced, licensed practitioner. However, a small number of patients may have reactions to the procedure which can include nausea, lightheadedness and fainting. As in any matter pertaining to health, any concerns should be discussed with the practitioner prior to treatment and following treatment to ensure maximum effectiveness
Are the needles clean?
Acupuncture needles are never re-used at our clinic. We will only use disposable needles as patient health and safety is our primary concern.