Often seen as a form of complementary or alternative medicine (CAM), although it is used in many NHS general practices, as well as the majority of pain clinics and hospices in the UK.
How does acupuncture work? There is no simple answer to this question. In the orient it is sufficient to say that acupuncture stimulates and regulates our energy (or Qi). Within the West we are always looking for another explanation that more easily fits into our concept of what medicine is and how medicine works. Unfortunately no one can firmly say, acupuncture works by such and such method. The problem is that there are many different styles and techniques of acupuncture and they don t fit anyone particular model. We do have some understand about how acupuncture works, but we don1t have the complete picture. For example, when acupuncture is used as an analgesic for operations in China it is understood that the insertion and manipulation of acupuncture needles stimulates the production of the body s own natural painkillers - endorphins. At the other end of the scale, very gentle stimulation of the small toe of a 34 weeks pregnant woman, can cause the baby to turn into the correct position if it is lying in a breech position. This would not stimulate the body s endorphins. Instead other theories have emerged about the effect it has on the adrenal glands...another model for another type of acupuncture. In short, there are many theories about how acupuncture works but there are is no one conclusive answer.
Does acupuncture work? Usually nothing is felt as the needle penetrates the skin as the needles are not much thicker than a human hair. When the needle reaches certain depth of the acupuncture point some kind of sensation will be felt. This can be a feeling of numbness, or a mild ache, or an alive sensation, or even like some people describe it as weird. Most people find acupuncture to be a relaxing and positive experience.
Why should I have acupuncture? There are many possible reasons for considering acupuncture treatment and of course everyone has their own motivations. Acupuncture is a safe and effective form of medicine. Acupuncture is holistic and aims to regulate the energetic of the body and bring it back into balance. Acupuncture treats both the symptoms and the root of an illness. Traditional Chinese Acupuncture can identify imbalances in the body at a very early stage. Acupuncture can treat signs and symptoms that may not have a clear Western medical diagnosis. Traditional Chinese medicine has been practiced over 2000 years, offering a well-established medical system, which has developed from observation and practice. Acupuncture can help you come off certain prescription drugs (with your GP's consent). Acupuncture can be a useful alternative if you do not wish to take prescription drugs for whatever personal or medical reasons. Offers a unique perspective of how we view the body and therefore can often give more understanding about a disease process and how it may have developed. Lastly, acupuncture may be the last alternative after trying everything else! It is not uncommon for patients to come to the clinic as a 'last measure'.
Will I have to get undressed to have Acupuncture? Most of the acupuncture points are located between the elbow & hand, and the knee & foot. Therefore, for many conditions it is only necessary to roll up trousers & shirtsleeves - provided the clothes are loose enough! Obviously, there are occasions when it is necessary to remove clothing down to underwear, such as when treating back pain. Although the pain may be located in the lower back, it is often necessary to treat the whole spine especially if there is a long history of back problems. For women, it is better to unclip the bra when lying face down on the couch so that doctor can feel the muscles & acupuncture points on the back. The clip is refastened after treatment, and doctor will leave the treatment room to allow the patient to redress.