Tell Me More About Acupuncture. . .
HOW IS IT DONE?
The therapist uses skills in identifying placement of needles to treat particular
conditions. The needles are thin and come in varying lengths. The patient feels a
mild prickling sensation as the needle pierces the skin. The needle is inserted just
a few millimeters until the patient feels an electrical sensation indicating that the needle
has connected with the desired energy point. This is crucial to the effectiveness
of the treatment.
Once the needle is inserted it is left in place for 10 to 30 minutes depending on
the purpose of the treatment. During that time stimulation is applied manually or
with a battery operated electronic device. Manual stimulation is done by the therapist
gently rotating the needle. Electrical stimulation is an alternative to manual stimulation.
The intensity of the stimulation is gradually increased to avoid discomfort. The
patient feels a mild vibration that seems soothing. After the prescribed length of
time the needle is withdrawn. There is usually no bleeding associated with the procedure.
The bleeding that occurs at times is very minimal.
HOW ARE NEEDLES STERILIZED?
Disposable needles are most commonly used. When needles are reused they are sterilized
by high pressure steam. It is the same sterilization process used in hospitals for
HOW MANY TREATMENTS ARE REQUIRED?
The number of treatments needed varies. Generally, long term, severe conditions require
more treatments than illnesses where onset was recent. Treatments are spaced at
regular intervals. These intervals could be daily, every other day or once a week
depending on the nature and severity of the condition being treated.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Chinese medicine is based on the principle of body energy called "chi", which is believed
to be the energy of life. This body energy flows freely in the 14 energy pathways
in the human body. Any congestion or imbalance of this flow causes illness. Needles
placed in strategic energy points work by re-establishing the balance, releasing obstruction
of energy flow; thus opening the energy channels.
Western physicians have done studies correlating the influence of acupuncture on the
sympathetic nervous system. Studies show that the needles influence the production
of endorphins (the body's own pain relievers), hence the relief of pain. Other studies
relate acupuncture to the gate control theory where needles work by masking or jamming
the sensory stimulus at the spinal cord level and pain is then perceived by the brain
as some sensation other than pain.
Scientific research continues to enlarge our understanding of why acupuncture works.
While more research is needed, therapists and their patients are convinced by their
experiences that acupuncture is effective, including cases where all other methods
WHICH DISEASES RESPOND BEST TO ACUPUCTURE?
Acupuncture works best in the following situations: pain control, treatment of
addictions, weight control, and organ dysfunctions. Examples of conditions that have
been treated successfully include allergies, asthma, anxiety and depression, arthritis,
tic douloureaux, tinnitus, sexual dysfunctions, hypertension, sinusitis, and gastrointestinal
problems. It offers a safe alternative to drugs.
Auricular acupuncture, a technique which involves the application of needles and electrical
stimulation on the external ear, offers treatment for drug and nicotine dependencies.
Ear points are also used for appetite control, aiding people in a safe way towards weight control.
ARE THERE ANY RISKS OR SIDE EFFECTS?
Unlike drugs, acupuncture does not appear to have adverse side effects because it
is a natural healing method. Occasionally minimal bleeding may happen after the
needle is removed. Sometimes the patient may feel faint at the start of a treatment
but that is just a passing feeling.
Cautious practitioners eliminate risks of puncturing delicate organs by using the
appropriate technique and avoiding points that endanger delicate organs. Patients
often feel mellow after a treatment because of the release of endorphins. Patients
generally feel better, have more creative energy, feel more at peace and in control of their
emotions during the course of treatments.
DOES INSURANCE COVER THE COST OF TREATMENTS?
Some health care providers cover the cost of treatment, including Health Partners,
the Blue Cross-Blue Shield plan with 3M company and all automobile insurance.
Workers Compensation and automobile accident insurance cover the cost of treatment
in many states. You must check with your major medical or Health Maintenance
Organization company to determine what kind coverage is available to you. Your
therapist can explain the process for insurance reimbursement.
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Last Updated November 25, 2004