There is nothing magical about acupuncture as it uses the principle of activating the body’s self-healing mechanism to fight against diseases and infections. The ancient art of acupuncture has long been used to relieve pain and treat many health conditions using extremely fine needles that are inserted into the skin at specific trigger points on your body. Despite the benefits of acupuncture, most doctors and health experts are still not convinced that acupuncture can be used as a complementary treatment for some type of diseases in patients. This article looks at how acupuncture works, its benefits, and results for pain.
What Happens During an Acupuncture Treatment?
Acupuncture is commonly used to treat pain and the procedure involves the insertion of very thin needles on various spots through the skin. Different people have different methods of performing acupuncture as it can also blend the aspects of both Eastern and Western approaches to medicine. A practitioner determines the best acupuncture treatment for you by asking about your symptoms, and lifestyle habits. Before they begin the procedure, he or she may examine parts of your body that are painful upon touch and rhythm of the pulse in your wrist.
The trigger points are situated in different areas around your body and the acupuncture points may be located far from the area where you feel pain. Afterward, very thin needles are inserted at strategic points on your body at various depths. When the needle reaches the right depth, you may start feeling a mild aching sensation. The insertion may cause a little discomfort especially if you are new to acupuncture but other people who are used to the needles never feel them being inserted at all.
Your practitioner can either twirl or move the needles gently after placement. Alternatively, he or she may apply mild electrical pulses or heat to the needles and allow them to remain in place for about 10 to 20 minutes. Although some people may feel relaxed and energized after the treatment, not everyone experiences the same effect. If your pain symptoms do not show any improvement after several acupuncture treatments, then you might consider other alternatives or try out a different approach.
How Does it Work?
The insertion of very thin and sterile needles into the skin helps to stimulate acupuncture points. This helps to improve the body’s natural healing process and functions. Heat, electrical stimulation, and gentle pressure are used to further enhance the effects of acupuncture. Other techniques used to stimulate acupuncture points include the application of topical herbal medicines, cupping, heat therapy, and manual massage.
Although there is no scientific proof that the acupuncture points exist, several studies have shown that acupuncture works well for some conditions. Other health experts have tried using neuroscience to explain the theory behind acupuncture. Based on these studies, acupuncture points are seen as areas of the body where nerves, connective tissue, and muscles can be stimulated.
This kind of stimulation leads to increased blood flow and triggers the activity of the body’s ‘natural painkillers’. These help reduce pain by promoting natural self-healing. However, the invasive nature of acupuncture makes it difficult to investigate the side effects of this type of treatment using proper scientific controls.
Health Benefits of Acupuncture
Medical institutions and mainstream doctors are accepting the use of acupuncture as a complementary treatment for pain and other medical conditions. Acupuncture is known to have several health benefits as it reduces chronic pain, anxiety, weight loss, and gastrointestinal issues. It works well when combined with medications and other treatments that focus on a particular health problem. Currently, there is ongoing research as to whether acupuncture can be used to treat other types of diseases that cannot be cured with conventional medicine.
Frequency of Treatment
The number or frequency of acupuncture treatments may vary depending on an individual. Many people often experience relief during the first treatment. However, you may be required to go for at least one to two treatments every week for complex or chronic conditions. During your initial visit, your practitioner will help set up an individualized treatment plan as well as the number of treatments you should expect to realize substantial relief from pain or other underlying conditions.
Although an individual may experience relief from their first acupuncture treatment, not everyone will respond well to the treatment. Despite its limitations and misconceptions, acupuncture is widely accepted as complementary and alternative medicine for treating a variety of medical conditions. It is used in conjunction with conventional medicine and other medical therapies to restore normal body functions and promote good health. It may be worth a try to consider acupuncture alongside other medication especially if you are suffering from chronic pain.