This article is the answer to what is acupuncture. When the common solutions for alleviating pain in Western medicine – prescription drugs and surgery – are not working, some patients are now seeking alternative medicine to solve their problems. Among the solutions considered for pain is acupuncture.
What is acupuncture? It’s an age-old component of traditional Chinese medicine that practitioners there say brings the flow of qi, or the body’s life force, back in balance. Thin, tiny but long needles are stuck through the skin into specific places along meridians that are pathways for this life force as it flows through the body. The needles unblock the qi, stimulating it to flow again, which, in turn, promotes healing and, thus takes away pain.
Acupuncture is becoming more accepted by U.S. doctors, who, according to the Mayo Clinic’s website, believe the needle placements are in strategic spots for stimulating nerves, the body’s connective tissues, and muscles, which causes the body to release its natural pain killers, and helps blood flow to injuries or pain sites, helping to heal them more quickly. This is the explanation most often given to patients who ask their doctors what is acupuncture.
Patients who ask their doctors or their friends about acupuncture may also get recommendations to use this treatment for a variety of other problems, such as lessening nausea, vomiting and other side effects caused by chemotherapy, to help alleviate the symptoms of fibromyalgia, headaches, migraines, lower back pain, pain in the teeth and gums, osteoarthritis, tennis elbow, menstrual cramps and even labor pain.
A study that evaluated data from more than 18,000 patients found that acupuncture really does work, and that it truly does ease pain for those with chronic pain, such as those with such conditions as osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia and other conditions mentioned above.
Make sure the acupuncturist you choose is licensed, comes highly recommended by people you trust, and runs a clean, sterile office and treatment environment. Most states require acupuncturists to be certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. If that is not the case in your state, see what licensing and registration is required by your state, then check to see if the provider you are considering has complied with those requirements. Also, do diligent searching online to see if there are any negative reviews of the acupuncturist you are considering. Talk to everyone in your community about acupuncture that you know has sought treatment to gather their input about their experiences, both good and bad.
Acupuncture needles should never be reused because that is one way infections can be spread. When the practitioner brings out the needles he or she plans to use on you, they should still be packaged. When the needles are removed from your body, they should be thrown away. If you can’t tell whether the needles that are about to be used are new or not, ask your practitioner if the needles he or she is about to insert into your body have been used before.
One thing about acupuncture that can hinder many from seeking treatment is that some insurance companies do not cover acupuncture treatments. Even though the treatment form is becoming more accepted by western medicine all the time, it’s still not as widely accepted as more conventional treatments. The best thing to do is to check with your insurance company before you go so you know what your costs will be before you go through the treatments. Even if your insurance company does cover acupuncture treatments, make sure your provider is on their list, and also make sure your provider accepts insurance. Some acupuncturists are so low-tech they don’t accept insurance at all.
There are some risks involved in acupuncture that you must know about when you are considering seeking treatment. Some side effects patients can experience after acupuncture treatments include: soreness, minor bleeding or even bruising at the needle puncture sites, or even an organ can be injured if the needles are inserted too deeply. That is why it is critical to find a licensed, experienced acupuncturist. The latter side effect is extremely rare, but it can happen if you are having a treatment near an organ and if your practitioner hasn’t had enough experience.
If you are pregnant, have a pacemaker or take blood thinners, or if you have a bleeding disorder, you probably should not undergo acupuncture treatments. Other illnesses and conditions could also be complicated by acupuncture. It’s always a good idea to check with your regular doctor first before seeking treatment and to follow his or her advice.