Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used medical procedures in the world. Originating in China more than 2,000 years ago, acupuncture began to become better known in the United States in 1971, when New York Times reporter James Reston wrote about how doctors in China used needles to ease his pain after surgery.
Acupuncture literally means 'needle piercing,". It is a Chinese medical treatment for unblocking chi (ch'i or qi) by the insertion of very fine sterile needles into the body at specific points according to a mapping of "energy pathways"; Chi is an energy that allegedly permeates all things. It is believed to flow through the body along 14 main pathways called "meridians". Historically, acupuncture is one component of an overall program of Chinese medicine that includes theory, practice, diagnosis, physiology, and the use of herbal preparations. It is used to control pain and to treat other conditions such as allergies or addiction withdrawal. When yin and yang are in harmony, chi flows freely within the body and a person is healthy. When a person is sick, diseased, or injured, there is an obstruction of chi along one of the meridians. Traditional Chinese medicine has identified some 500 specific points where needles are to be inserted for specific effects.
The acupuncturist is able to influence health and sickness by stimulating certain areas along these "meridians". Traditionally these areas or "acupoints" were stimulated by fine, slender needles. Along with the usual method of puncturing the skin with the fine needles, the practitioners of acupuncture also use heat, pressure, friction, suction, or impulses of electromagnetic energy to stimulate the points. The acupoints (acupuncture points) are stimulated to balance the movement of energy (qi) in the body to restore health.
Acupuncture is just one form of therapy used within the coherent system of healing known as Oriental Medicine. Oriental Medicine includes herbology, physical therapy, dietetics and special exercises (such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong), and is a complete medical system unto itself and is not another branch of modern Western medicine. Acupuncture evolved from principles and philosophies unique to Oriental thinking and Oriental Medicine, and is most effectively applied when done in accordance with those principles.
People use acupuncture to relieve pain and treat certain health conditions. You can use it by itself or as part of a treatment program. Studies have found promising results for the use of acupuncture in treating nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy and post surgery pain. Acupuncture also may be useful for:Stroke rehabilitation, which involves relearning skills that a person lost because of brain damage from a stroke. Headache
A recent study shows that adding acupuncture to standard treatment leads to significant, long-lasting relief from chronic headaches, especially migraines.Menstrual cramps. Tennis elbow. Fibromyalgia
or widespread pain and tenderness of muscle and soft tissue.Myofascial pain, which is caused by spasm in the muscles. Osteoarthritis, or the breakdown of the tissue (cartilage) that protects and cushions joints. A recent study found that acupuncture can reduce knee pain and increase movement of the knee in people with osteoarthritis. Low back pain. Carpal tunnel syndrome, or pressure on a nerve in the wrist that results in tingling, numbness, weakness, or pain of the fingers and hand. Asthma, or inflammation in the tubes that carry air to the lungs, resulting in periodic episodes of difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing. Dental pain. Reducing labor pain. Is acupuncture safe?
In general, acupuncture is safe when done by a certified acupuncturist. A state license ensures that the acupuncturist has a certain level of training and follows certain practice guidelines. The sterile, nontoxic needles be used and that they be labeled for single use by qualified practitioners only. Practitioners should use a new set of disposable needles taken from a sealed package for each patient and should swab treatment sites with alcohol or another disinfectant before inserting needles. When not delivered properly, acupuncture can cause serious adverse effects, including infections and punctured organs.