Acupuncture: What is it?
Acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and to improve functioning. This is done by inserting very thin needles, or a cool laser, at very precise acupuncture points. It is used to relieve pain, treat a wide range of illnesses, and promote health.
What is Medical Acupuncture? Is it Different from Ordinary Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a very old medical art, and there are many approaches to learning and practicing it. Medical acupuncture is the term used to describe acupuncture performed by a doctor trained and licensed in Western medicine that has also had through training in acupuncture as a specialty practice. Such a doctor can use one or the other approach, or a combination of both as the need arises, to treat an illness.
What is the Scope of Medical Acupuncture?
Medical acupuncture is a system, which can influence three areas of health care:
- Promotion of health and well-being
- Prevention of illness
- Treatment of various medical conditions
While acupuncture is often associated with pain control, in the hands of a well-trained practitioner it has much broader applications. Acupuncture can be effective as the only treatment used, or as the support or adjunct to other medical treatment forms in many medical and surgical disorders.
The World Health Organization recognizes the use of acupuncture in the treatment of a wide range of medical problems, including:
- Digestive disorders: gastritis and hyperacidity, spastic colon, constipation, diarrhea.
- Respiratory disorders: sinusitis, sore throat, bronchitis, asthma, and recurrent chest infections.
- Neurological and muscular disorders: headaches, facial tics, neck pain, rib neuritis, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, various forms of tendonitis, low back pain, sciatica, osteoarthritis.
- Urinary, menstrual, and reproductive problems.
Acupuncture is particular useful in resolving physical problems related to tension and stress and emotional conditions.
How does Acupuncture work?
The classical Chinese explanation is that channels of energy run in regular patterns through the body and over its surface. These energy channels, called meridians, are like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues. An obstruction in the movement of these energy rivers is like a dam that backs up the flow in one part of the body and restricts it in others.
The meridians can be influenced by needling the acupuncture points; the acupuncture needs unblock the obstructions at the dams, and reestablish the regular flow through the meridians. Acupuncture treatments can therefore help the body?s internal organs to correct imbalances in their digestion, absorptions and energy production activities, and in the circulation of their energy through the meridians.
The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones, which influence the bodies own internal regulating system.
The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body?s natural healing abilities, and in promoting physical and emotional well-being.
How Many Treatments Will I Need?
The number of treatments needed differs from person to person. For complex or long-standing conditions, one or two treatments per week for several months may be recommended. For acute problems, usually fewer visits are required, and for health maintenance, four sessions a year may be all that is necessary.
Are There Any Side Effects to the Treatment?
Usually not. As energy is redirected in the body, internal chemicals and hormones are stimulated and healing begins to take place. Occasionally, the original symptoms worsen for a few days, or other general changes in appetite, sleep, bowel or urination patterns, or emotional state may be triggered. These should not cause concern, as they are simply indications that the acupuncture is starting to work.
It is quite common with the first one or two treatments to have a sensation of deep relaxation or even mild disorientation immediately following the treatment. These pass within a short time, and never require anything more than a bit of rest of rest to overcome.
What Are the Needles Like? Do they Hurt?
People experience acupuncture needling differently. Most patients feel only minimal pain as the needles are inserted; some feel no pain at all. Once the needles are in place, there is no pain felt.
Acupuncture needles are very thin and solid and are made from stainless steel. The point is smooth (not how with cutting edges like a hypodermic needle) and insertion through the skin is not as painful as injections or blood sampling. The risk of bruising and skin irritation is less than when using a hollow needle.
Because your doctor uses disposable needles, there is no risk of infection from the treatments.
Does Acupuncture Really Work?
Yes. In the past 2,000 years, more people have been successfully treated with acupuncture than with all other health modalities combined. Today, acupuncture is practiced in Asia, the new disbanded Soviet Union, and in Europe. It is now being used more and more in America by patients and physicians.
Acupuncture treatments can be given at the same time as other techniques are being used, such as conventional Western medicine, osteopathic or chiropractic adjustments, and homeopathic or naturopathic prescriptions. It is important that your physician-acupuncturists know everything that you are doing, so he or she can help you get the most benefits from all your treatments
Acupuncture- Dr. Keller is trained in palpatory acupuncture, which combines classical Chinese medical principles with modern pathophysiology in a way that facilitates the understanding and brings out the best in both.