Acupuncture could provide the relief you have been looking for. Contact Hopkins Clinic today for a free consultation.
Acupuncture originated in China thousands of years ago, but its popularity has grown significantly within the United States. Acupuncture is a component of oriental medicine that involves the insertion of extremely thin needles in your skin at strategic points on your body.
Traditional Chinese theory explains acupuncture as a technique for balancing the flow of energy or life force — known as qi or chi (chee) — believed to flow through pathways (meridians) in your body. By inserting needles into specific points along these meridians, acupuncture practitioners believe that your energy flow will be corrected and result in reduced symptoms.
In contrast, many Western practitioners view the acupuncture points as places to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue. This stimulation appears to boost the activity of your body’s natural painkillers and increase blood flow. Acupuncture is often used to treat muscle disorders commonly called trigger points that are painful areas in muscle that often refer pain to other areas of the body.
Acupuncture points are located in all areas of the body. Sometimes the appropriate points are far removed from the area of your pain. Your acupuncture practitioner will tell you the general location of the planned treatment and if articles of clothing need to be removed. If appropriate, a gown, towel or sheet will be provided to preserve your modesty.
Needle insertion. Acupuncture needles are very thin, so insertion usually causes very little discomfort. Between five and 20 needles are used in a typical treatment. You may feel a deep, aching sensation when a needle reaches the correct depth. This is a desirable effect that typically leads to good outcome and pain relief afterwards.
Needle manipulation. Your practitioner may gently move or twirl the needles after they’ve been placed. Another option is to apply heat or a mild electric pulse to the needles.
Needle removal. In most cases, the needles will remain in place for 15 minutes while you lie still and relax. There is usually no sensation of discomfort when the needles are removed.
Some people feel relaxed while others feel energized after an acupuncture treatment. But not everyone responds to acupuncture. If your symptoms don’t begin to improve within a few treatments, acupuncture may not be the right treatment for you.
Since acupuncture has few side effects, it may be worth a try if you’re having trouble controlling pain with more-conventional methods.
According to the 2002 National Health Interview Survey, an estimated 8.2 million Americans have been to an acupuncturist, and an estimated 2.1 million U.S. adults used acupuncture in the previous year. Since the use of acupuncture has spread widely in the U.S. in the past 20 years, researchers are studying the benefits of acupuncture for many conditions, including low-back pain, headaches, and osteoarthritis of the knee.
Acupuncture may be useful as an independent treatment for some conditions, but it can also be used as a complement to other healthcare therapies.
Acupuncture Side Effects & Complications
Risks of being treated with acupuncture are low if you have a competent, certified acupuncture practitioner. Possible side effects and complications include:
- Soreness, bleeding or bruising at the needle sites
- Internal organ injury, particularly to the lungs, if the needles are pushed in too deeply
Only single-use, sterile packaged needles are used at Hopkins Clinic to prevent infection.