Acupuncture is a medical treatment that involves the use of thin needles that are inserted into the body at very specific locations. Acupuncture is one of the primary components of traditional Chinese medicine.
There are differing theories regarding how acupuncture works. The traditional Chinese explanation explains that acupuncture balances the flow of energies in the body through pathways, also called meridians. Inserting needles into the proper locations is believed to alter and rebalance these energy flows.
The Western explanation is a little different. It’s believed that the needles used in acupuncture stimulate muscles, nerves, and connective tissues. It’s also believed by many that endorphins are released as a result of the needles, and these endorphins are responsible for the pain relief acupuncture often provides.
Many states require that acupuncturists receive a master’s degree in Acupuncture and Oriental medicine. This program is 3-4 years in length after receiving a bachelor’s degree. Each state has its own requirements for acupuncturists.
Acupuncture can be a worthwhile treatment option for several conditions, such as:
- Nausea associated with chemotherapy and anesthesia. Several studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of acupuncture for managing nausea created by chemotherapy treatment. The post–surgery nausea caused by anesthesia is also positively impacted by acupuncture.
- Rhinitis related to allergies, such as high fever. Do you suffer from allergies that cause your nose to run? The swelling of mucous membranes due to allergies can be treated with acupuncture. This can be an effective treatment for seasonal allergies without having to resort to medications that often create drowsiness.
- Headaches. Acupuncture can be used to treat a variety of pain, including migraine and other types of headaches. In fact, acupuncture is highly effective in combating headache pain in many sufferers where medication has proven to be ineffective.
- Hypertension. If you suffer from hypertension, you might want to consider giving acupuncture a try. It’s been shown to be mildly to moderately successful in treating a variety of hypertensive ailments.
- Morning sickness. Morning sickness can be highly uncomfortable and inconvenient. Acupuncture can be quite helpful at alleviating morning sickness, nausea, and discomfort and poses no risk to the growing baby.
- Tennis elbow. Tennis elbow can be incredibly uncomfortable and slow to heal. Acupuncture can greatly reduce the pain and the time needed for healing to occur. Acupuncture might take your tennis game to a new level, or at least you’ll be able to spend more time on the court.
- Sprain. In general, sprains respond well to acupuncture. If little else seems to be working, acupuncture can help alleviate the swelling and pain associated with common sprains.
- Menstrual pain. Menstrual discomfort is a serious issue for many women every month. It might be surprising to discover that a few needles in the right place can help with this discomfort, but it can. If you have pain associated with menstrual activity, acupuncture is a possible solution.
Does it hurt? It varies. Most patients report that the insertion of the needle is painless, but there is often a mild ache, numbness, or tingling sensation after the needle reaches its full depth. The needles used in acupuncture are much thinner than those used to give an injection, so the amount of pain is much less.
Acupuncture has been around for nearly 8,000 years. Any medical treatment that’s persisted for that long is worth a look. Acupuncture carries very little risk, and many people are very enthusiastic about the results they receive.
If you consider yourself to be an open-minded person, acupuncture is worth a try. There really is nothing to lose.