Acupuncture is a form of treatment that involves inserting very thin needles through a person's skin at specific points on the body, to various depths. Research suggests that it can help relieve pain, and it is used for a wide range of other complaints. Some people claim it works by balancing vital energy, while others believe it has a neurological effect.
TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE (TCM)
At the 2016 Summer Olympics, you might have seen athletes with purple circles on their skin from cupping. Or maybe you know someone who swears by acupuncture for their back pain or herbal teas for colds. More and more, people use practices like these from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to not only fight disease, but also prevent it.
ELECTRICAL MUSCLE STIMULATION (EMS)
EMS is the elicitation of muscle contraction using electric impulses. It can be utilized as a strength training tool for healthy subjects and athletes; it could be used as a rehabilitation and preventive tool for partially or totally immobilized patients; it could be utilized as a testing tool for evaluating the neural and/or muscular function in vivo; it could be used as a post-exercise recovery tool for athletes.
How does Acupuncture work?
Chinese Acupuncture is one of the oldest healing arts that exist. Over the millennia, as a powerful medical tool, acupuncture has been used to treat billions of people in a safe, painless and effective way, with the focus on regaining health and addressing a variety of conditions. The Chinese explanation of acupuncture and how it works is not based on Western biomedical science, but on a system of meridians, or pathways that form a network and link the tissues and organs into an organic whole. These meridians are like rivers flowing throughout the body that irrigate and nourish the tissues. Disease occurs when the flow of Qi (chee) in the meridians becomes deficient, excessive, stagnant, or blocked like a dam along the river. Within the meridians are several hundred therapeutic acupuncture points. Inserting hair-thin needles into these acupuncture points serves to unblock the flow of Qi, prompts the release of endorphins (the natural painkillers), and other chemicals, to relieve pain, promote healing, and improve well being. Essentially acupuncture helps the mind body to come back to a more balanced state thus stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities.
How many treatments will I need?
Each patient will be evaluated on an individual basis and be given an estimate of how many treatments may be needed. A standard course of care for many conditions is 1-3 treatments a week for 10 treatments. The number of treatments needed may vary according to the nature of the condition, how long the condition has existed, the overall health and constitution of the patient and most importantly the commitment of the patient to get better. Each person responds differently to treatment and the goal is to alleviate the presenting problem and reach a maintenance level as quickly as possible. It is important that the patient keep good written or mental notes on how each treatment works as this will help determine future treatment strategy.
What is an acupuncture treatment like?
After the initial history is taken, the patient will relax on a comfortable treatment table and the traditional Chinese diagnostics of feeling the pulse and observing the tongue will be performed. These two tools along with the patient history will determine which points will best help treat the patient’s condition. Needles will then be inserted along the meridian pathway in select acupuncture points specifically chosen to treat the patient’s needs. The needles are regulated by the FDA and are made of surgical stainless steel. They come pre-sterilized and are used only once. Acupuncture needles are so thin that they can fit within the hollow of a standard blood-drawing needle. Patients report different feelings associated with acupuncture, including heaviness of the limbs, slight tingling and whole body relaxation. While most feel the insertion of the needles any sensation subsides quickly. Once inserted, the needles are not noticeable and will remain in place throughout the treatment time. Most patients enter a state of deep relaxation or sleep for the duration of the treatment which can take 20-40 minutes. In addition to needles, a treatment may include the use of radiant heat therapy, electro-stimulation or the use of cupping therapy.
What should I do prior to treatment?
Please wear comfortable clothes. You will probably remain dressed, depending on the issue that is being addressed, but you may be required to remove some articles of clothing. Loose clothes are best. Do not come in overly full or very hungry. For mild to moderate pain it is sometimes beneficial to refrain from taking pain medication prior to treatment. Do not force yourself to be miserable, but it is often easier to evaluate the efficacy of the treatment if you are not ‘under the influence’. Again, do not make yourself suffer needlessly, this is only a suggestion. Occasionally, a person may feel lightheaded after a treatment. This is a result of your body’s energies readjusting, you will return to normal within a few minutes. You can wait for this to pass in the treatment or waiting room. If possible try to refrain from expending excess energy for 4-6 hours post treatment to give your body a chance to adjust to the change.
Acupuncture for Children?
Acupuncture is not only beneficial to adults, children can benefit, as well. Acupuncture’s use in children and adolescents has mirrored the technique’s rising popularity among adults. A study of 450 children from birth to age 17 who had acupuncture found the technique to be safe in the hands of well-trained practitioners.
Many think acupuncture is just for pain. It can encourage the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. But acupuncture helps children and teens with a wide range of issues, including but not limited to:
Reflux, nausea and stomach pain
Bone and joint pain
Asthma and allergies