What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture stimulates the balance and flow of Qi energy that in Traditional Chinese Medicine is considered essential to health. When the body is healthy, Qi (pronounced chee), flows smoothly through the meridians that make up a conceptual network of pathways throughout the entire body. When the balance or flow of Qi is deficient or obstructed it may be diseased or susceptible to illness. Acupressure treats both the symptoms and the root causes of the patient’s illness.
In North America acupuncture is often used when western medicine has failed. In western medicine the yin/yang balance it achieves is known as homeostasis.
How does it work?
Acupuncture is an ancient, safe and effective alternative to medication and, in some cases, surgery. It stimulates the release of endorphins – the body’s natural pain-relieving neurohormones – through the insertion of needles into specific anatomical points (acupuncture points) to encourage natural healing. Therapeutic effects include:
- Pain relief
- Increased energy
- Improved mood
- Improved body function
Atraumatic acupuncture needles are rounded at the tip so that they slide smoothly through tissue and are unlikely to cause bleeding. Needles are left in place for 15 to 30 minutes during which time the practitioner may manipulate the needles in order to strengthen or reduce the flow of Qi.
Are there similar therapies that don’t use a needle?
Related techniques include acupressure which involves the application of pressure on acupuncture points using thumbs or fingers. Electrical or laser stimulation may also be used.
Does acupuncture work?
Acupressure can be used to treat people of all ages from children to seniors. It is an effective treatment for pain. It is the stimulation, by insertion of needles, of specific points on the body which have the ability to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions. This stimulates the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain-relieving neurohormones. Accupressure affects the functioning of the hormonal system, promotes a decrease in inflammation, increased circulation and relief from pain.
Is acupuncture safe?
It is a safe and effective treatment with very few adverse effects and complications from its use. The York Acupuncture Safety Study, a prospective study of 34,407 acupuncture treatments found no serious adverse effects and only 43 cases of mild adverse effects, the most common of which were nausea and fainting.
What will I experience during my acupuncture treatment?
Most people find their treatments relaxing. Others may experience minimal discomfort. Adverse effects and complications are almost entirely absent. Professionals use sterile single use needles so there is no risk of infection or transmission of disease.
Aching, heat and heaviness are often experienced during acupuncture treatment. This is the “deQi effect.” For most patients these sensations are brief. For others (0.5%) the sensation may last from five minutes to several hours. Your practitioner will not consider this an undesirable outcome.
- A study of more than 3000 acupuncture treatments* has identified how often discomfort during or after treatment occurs:
- For 2.9% of patients a small amount of bleeding appears at the needle site. This usually stops within minutes of the needle being removed. Bleeding is more likely in patients who take Aspirin or blood thinners. Let your practitioner know if you use these medications.
- 2.2% of patients (often the same people who experience bleeding) develop a small bruise at the needle site. This usually disappears within a few days.
- 1.4% experience fatigue
- 1.0% experience a brief feeling of dizziness that disappears during treatment
- 0.9% experience brief, low-level pain while the needle is in place or after the needle is removed. This sensation generally lasts for less than five minutes.
- Other sensations include tingling (0.5%); sweating (0.3%); nausea (0.1%). If any of these continues for more than two minutes your practitioner will end your session and remove the needles.
- 0.1% of patients have fainted.