Very fine needles are inserted under your skin at specific locations on your body during an acupuncture treatment. A crucial part of traditional Chinese medicine, pain relief is the main application of acupuncture. It’s being utilized more and more for stress management and general wellness.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is a method for restoring equilibrium to the flow of life force, sometimes referred to as chi or qi (chee), which is thought to pass via your body’s meridians. Acupuncture practitioners feel that by placing needles at certain spots along these meridians, your energy flow will rebalance.
On the other hand, a lot of Western practitioners see acupuncture points as locations to stimulate muscles, connective tissue, and nerves. Some people think that this stimulation increases your body’s endogenous analgesics.
What is the extent of acupuncture use?
Out of 129 nations that submitted data, 103 use acupuncture, according to the World Health Organisation.
According to data from the National Health Interview Survey, the number of Americans using acupuncture increased by 50% between 2002 and 2012. According to data from 2012, the most recent year for which data are available, 6.4% of American adults said they had used acupuncture, and 1.7% said they had done so during the previous year.
What is the purpose of acupuncture?
According to national survey statistics, back, joint, and neck pain are the most common conditions for which acupuncture is utilized in the US.
How does scientific acupuncture operate?
It’s unclear exactly how acupuncture operates. There is evidence, meanwhile, that acupuncture may have nonspecific (placebo) effects as well as impacts on other bodily tissues including the neurological system.
Research on both humans and animals, including trials that employed imaging techniques to see what was happening in the brain, has suggested that acupuncture may have an impact on the way the nervous system works.
The tissues in which the needles are put during acupuncture may be directly affected. We have observed this kind of action in connective tissue.
The benefits of acupuncture are nonspecific, meaning they result from the treatment’s incidental components rather than from its primary mode of action. The patient’s faith in the treatment, the patient-provider connection, or other circumstances unrelated to the needle insertion may be the cause of nonspecific effects.
Acupuncture has shown more benefits when compared to no therapy in numerous studies than when compared to sham (simulated or phoney) acupuncture procedures, like using a device that pokes the skin but does not enter it. These results imply that nonspecific effects play a role in acupuncture’s positive effects on pain or other symptoms.
A novel method was used in a recent study to demonstrate a nonspecific effect: patients who had previously had acupuncture and felt pain alleviation were given a video of the session and instructed to visualize the treatment occurring again. This kind of video-guided imagery significantly reduced discomfort.
Acupuncture for pain
For ages, Asians have utilized the age-old practice of acupuncture to cure a wide range of illnesses and ease pain. These days, it’s being utilized in the US and other Western nations to treat a wide range of conditions, including headaches, fibromyalgia, menstrual cramps, low back pain, headaches, and nerve pain (such as excruciating shingles outbreaks).
During traditional Chinese acupuncture, very tiny needles are inserted into the skin at designated “acupoints.” This may reduce pain by altering the area of the brain that controls serotonin, a neurotransmitter linked to mood, and by producing endorphins, the body’s natural analgesics.
To increase the effects of Chinese acupuncture, the acupuncturist may twist or turn the needles, use heat, or use electrical stimulation. In a practice known as moxibustion, he or she may also burn a medicinal herb close to the skin.
In a practice known as moxibustion, he or she may also burn a medicinal herb close to the skin.
Compared to Chinese acupuncture, Japanese acupuncture uses shallower needle insertion and rarely manipulates the needles. In Korean acupuncture, the hands and feet are the only areas where needles are inserted.
Usually, the acupuncturist will place four to ten needles and leave them there while you rest for ten to thirty minutes. Typically, a three-month therapy regimen consists of six to twelve sessions.
(Acupressure, which is related to acupuncture, is a non-need treatment. Rather, the practitioner applies deep pressure at acupressure sites with his or her hands.)
In general, acupuncture is very safe, and there doesn’t seem to be much of a chance of complications. According to a survey of acupuncture-related consequences published in medical journals, the most serious issue was the inadvertent needle insertion—though this is uncommon—into the pleural region between the chest wall and the lungs. The chances of contracting blood-borne illnesses like HIV or hepatitis B have virtually disappeared with the introduction of single-use, sealed needle kits.
Does acupuncture effectively reduce pain? The evidence is conflicting; although some studies demonstrate that acupuncture reduces pain, others find that it is no more effective than “sham” acupuncture (a term used to describe procedures intended to resemble acupuncture but have no true therapeutic benefit; think of them as the equivalent of a placebo, or “sugar pill,” used in drug trials). Interpreting these findings is complicated by the fact that the majority of acupuncture investigations have been small-scale. This makes any comparison difficult because “sham” acupuncture treatments have also been designed in a broad variety of ways. It’s also likely that some people respond well to acupuncture while others do not.
Find a skilled acupuncturist if you want to give it a try. Different states have different requirements for licenses. Your best choice is to locate an acupuncturist certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in states where licensing is not required.
What can be learned about the efficacy of acupuncture in treating pain from research?
According to research, acupuncture may be beneficial for a number of pain disorders, such as postoperative pain, knee pain related to osteoarthritis, and back or neck discomfort. Additionally, it might lessen joint pain brought on by the use of medications called aromatase inhibitors, which are prescribed to patients with breast cancer.
An examination of information from 20 trials including 6,376 participants who suffered from painful diseases such as headaches, osteoarthritis, back pain, or neck pain revealed that, for all save neck pain, the therapeutic benefits of acupuncture persisted for a year following the conclusion of treatment.
What are the risk factors?
If you receive acupuncture from a skilled, licensed practitioner with sterilized needles, the dangers are minimal. Soreness and slight bleeding or bruises where the needles were put are common side effects. Since single-use, disposable needles are now the norm, there is very little chance of infection. Acupuncture is not suitable for everyone.
Prior to receiving acupuncture care, make sure the practitioner is aware of any:
Possess a bleeding condition: If you take blood thinners or have a bleeding disorder, you may be more susceptible to bleeding or bruises from the needles.
Possess a pacemaker: The use of moderate electrical pulses during acupuncture could potentially disrupt the functioning of a pacemaker.
If you are carrying a child: It is believed that some acupuncture points can induce labor, which could lead to an early birth.
How do you get ready?
Acupuncture treatments don’t require any additional preparation beforehand.
Selecting a Professional
Follow these steps to select an acupuncturist, just as you would if you were choosing a doctor:
- Request recommendations from people you can trust.
- Verify the credentials and training of the practitioner. The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine administers an exam that nonphysician acupuncturists must pass in order to practice in most states.
- Speak with the practitioner. Inquire about the course of treatment, the likelihood that it would improve your condition, and the associated costs.
- Find out if the procedure is covered by your insurance.
- Inform your physician of your interest in acupuncture.
He or she might be able to suggest an acupuncturist or provide you with information regarding the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating your ailment.
Although it can be challenging to quantify the advantages of acupuncture, many people find it useful in managing a range of unpleasant ailments.
On the other hand, a number of studies suggest that some forms of virtual acupuncture seem to function on par with actual acupuncture. Additionally, research indicates that acupuncture is most effective for those who expect treatment to work.
Since acupuncture seldom has negative effects, it might be worth a try if more traditional approaches to pain management aren’t working for you.
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