What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an ancient health science which is used to successfully treat both pain and dysfunction in the body. Authorities agree the science is between 5,000 and 7,000 years old.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
The classical Chinese explanation is that channels of energy run in regular patterns through the body and over its surface. These energy channels, called meridians, are like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues. An obstruction in the movement of these energy rivers is like a dam that backs up in others.
The meridians can be influenced by needling the acupuncture points; the acupuncture needles unblock the obstructions at the dams, and reestablish the regular flow through the meridians. Acupuncture treatments can therefore help the body’s internal organs to correct imbalances in their digestion, absorption, and energy production activities, and in the circulation of their energy through the meridians.
The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body’s own internal regulating system.
What is “Meridian Therapy”?
Meridian therapy is the accepted name employed by those who practice the principle of Acupuncture without the use of a penetrating needle.
Acupuncture is a principle, not a technique!
Therefore, there are many ways to stimulate an acupuncture point other than a needle, just as there are many different strokes used in swimming.
Many practitioners use electronic stimulation, laser beam, or pressure massage to effectively treat an acupuncture point. The principle of Acupuncture does not change, only the technique.
How Many Treatments Will I Need?
The number of treatments needed differs from person to person. For complex or long-standing conditions, one or two treatments a week for several months may be recommended. For acute problems, usually fewer visits are required, although there may be more frequent visits in the beginning of acute conditions.
Are There Any Side Effects to the Treatment?
Usually not. As energy is redirected in the body, internal chemicals and hormones are stimulated and healing begins to take place. Occasionally the original symptoms worsen for a few days, or other general changes in appetite, sleep, bowel or urination patterns, or emotional state may be triggered. These should not cause concern, as they are simply indications that the acupuncture is starting to work. It is quite common with the first one or two treatments to have a sensation of deep relaxation or even mild disorientation immediately following the treatment. These pass within a short time, and never require anything more than a bit of rest to overcome.
What are the Needles Like? Do They Hurt?
People experience acupuncture needling differently. Most patients feel only minimal pain as the needles are inserted; some feel no pain at all. Once the needles are in place, there is no pain felt. Acupuncture needles are very thin and solid and are made from stainless steel. The point is smooth (not hollow with cutting edges like a hypodermic needle) and insertion through the skin is not as painful as injections or blood sampling. The risk of bruising and skin irritation is less than when using a hollow needle.
Because your doctor carefully sterilizes the needles using the same techniques as for surgical instruments, or uses disposable needles, there is no risk of infection from the treatments.
Do I Have to Believe in Acupuncture for it to Work?
No. Acupuncture is used successfully on cats, dogs, horses and other animals. These animal patients do not understand or believe in the process that helps them get better. A positive attitude toward wellness may reinforce the effects of the treatment received, just as a negative attitude may hinder the effects of acupuncture or any other treatment. A neutral attitude (“I don’t know if I really believe in this.”) will not block the treatment results.
What is Dry Needling and how is it different from Traditional Acupuncture?
Traditional Meridian acupuncture is typically done in inter-muscular space (between muscle bellies) where is known to be the energy (“Qi”) flow pathway. On the other hand, Dry needling does not follow the meridian or energy channel theory, but consider more mechanical approach where the actual physical muscle dysfunctions such as trigger points, tendonitis, bursitis, muscle sprain, strain, spasm, and other biomechanical injuries or ailments accompanied with pain or inflammation. Dry needling is typically done into the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, or joint capsules but relatively painless. For that reason, it is also called Intra-muscular acupuncture.