What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a method of therapy that originated in China several thousand years ago. Acupuncture is founded on the belief that there are patterns of energy flow (or “Qi”) that move through the body and are essential to a person’s health. A disruption in the flow of energy is believed to be responsible for disease and pain. Through the insertion of small, thin needles into the skin at specific points and depths along the body’s flow of energy, Acupuncture aims to correct any imbalances or disruptions in a person’s Qi. There are over 350 acupuncture points located along energy flow pathways (meridians) over the body, which can be used to bring energy flow back into proper balance.
How does Acupuncture work?
By inserting thin needles into the skin at specific points and depths, acupuncture can activate certain pathways or meridians in the body. Each meridian is associated with a different organ system. Sometimes heat, pressure, or mild electrical current is used along with needles to help influence the energy flow for the desired treatment outcome. Activating a certain meridians causes a response in that system (ex. the cardiovascular system) as well as in the respective area the brain.
What to Expect During an Acupuncture Treatment?
The acupuncture provider will give you a thorough physical examination and ask questions about your current and past health history during your initial visit. You will be asked about your overall health and function as well as your goals in seeking acupuncture therapy. The more information you can offer will the assist the provider in creating your specific therapy protocol.
There are different techniques for locating acupuncture points throughout your body. Many are found using anatomical landmarks such as certain joints, muscles or depressions in your skin. Some providers may use electronic point locators that are held directly on the skin and make increasingly louder sounds as they pass over acupuncture points. Point location is essential to access the chi that is blocked or not flowing properly in the various points throughout these channels in your body. Each of the points relates to certain health problems or body functions and will be used during your acupuncture treatment. Points used may not necessarily be in the area of your complaint, but when combined in a system of points during your treatment- may provide significant relief or benefit.
How Big are the Needles?
Following point location, the provider will quickly tap very thin needles into your skin. In many cases they may use several needles depending on the desired effect they wish to achieve. The different points and meridians are at different depths in the body and some needles may be placed deeper than others. The needles come in different shapes and sizes, and are individually packaged for one time use only. The provider may use various needles, press tacks, or seeds, depending on what the provider believes is necessary, to restore the flow of chi for your optimum health.
Treatment usually lasts for 15 to 60 minutes in most cases, but each provider may have different goals as they tailor the treatment protocols to the specific individual. You may require several visits to complete your treatment and many patients notice improvements in 4-6 sessions depending on the condition(s) being treated. Some people have ongoing visits.
What Does it Feel Like?
Some patients describe it as a light pin prick and you may feel slight pressure when a needle is inserted. Many people find that it doesn’t hurt and they may only “feel” one or two of the many needles inserted. The immediate area of the needle insertion point may tingle, feel numb, itch, or be a bit sensitive initially. These sensations go away soon after the treatment and providers believe that this is a sign that the energy flow, or chi, has been accessed or released from that point.
Your provider may stimulate the needles during the protocol by gently turning the needle slightly back and forth, with light electrical current or heat.
What’s Next if I Want Acupuncture?
Interested in acupuncture or have questions regarding your condition and how acupuncture could help you? Contact our clinic a schedule a complimentary consultation for more information, or if you wish to have treatment- schedule your initial examination which includes evaluation and treatment in the same visit. Following the examination an acupuncture treatment plan will be designed specifically for you to address your particular condition and therapy goals. This treatment plan will involve stimulating specific acupuncture points along your body in attempt to restore balance in your energy flow. Imbalances can be caused by external factors like injury or trauma, postural imbalances, environmental pollution, or internal factors such as negative emotions, metabolic toxicity, or a poor diet.