The ancient art of acupuncture was traditionally used in China to treat a variety of conditions and relieve pain. Now, it is common to find chiropractors and other professionals in the medical field performing acupuncture in order to ease lower back pain, nerve pain, headaches, fibromyalgia, and more.
If you are considering booking an acupuncture appointment, but are not sure if it is the right treatment for you, read on to learn about what acupuncture really is and how it works to relieve pain.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture involves the act of inserting needles at various points on the skin in certain “acupoints.” If performed by a professional, these needles will not harm the skin and you probably will not notice that they have been inserted in your body.
When your acupuncturist chooses specific points of insertion, the body releases endorphins, (a natural pain-killing chemical), and affects the area of the brain that manages serotonin. In some instances, the acupuncturist may apply an electrical stimulation or heat to enhance the needles effects. In others, he or she may twirl or twist the needle.
Typically, around ten needles will be inserted into the skin, and they will be left inserted for anywhere from ten to thirty minutes while you lay flat on your stomach or back. The course of treatment depends on the source of the pain, but normally will include six to twelve sessions over a period of several months to a year.
Is it Safe?
The risk of serious injuries and pain are low if you visit a certified acupuncture practitioner. In the majority of cases, the worst pain that is noted as a result of acupuncture is soreness at the site of the needles. Minor bleeding and bruising may also occur, depending on how sensitive skin is.
In very rare cases, infections have been described. However, this is due to reused needles. Again, be sure you are visiting a reputable establishment, where only sterile and disposable needles are used.
It should be noted that not everyone is an ideal candidate for acupuncture. The following conditions may increase the chances of complications from acupuncture:
Pacemaker – Mild electrical pulses are sometimes incorporated into acupuncture, which could potentially interfere with a pacemaker’s operation.
Bleeding disorder – If you already have a bleeding disorder prior to visiting an acupuncture practitioner, your chances of bleeding and bruising from the needles will be increased.
Pregnancy – Certain types of acupuncture can stimulate labor. Be sure to consult your doctor if you are pregnant and planning to visit an acupuncture practitioner.
Does it Work?
Acupuncture is a great option with a good track record that is worth considering. The truth is that it does, in fact, provide real relief from common forms of pain. For new pain or pain that other medications just do not seem to alleviate, try an acupuncturist. By receiving treatments weekly, you can expect to feel a real difference with a very low chance of adverse side effects.