Acupuncture

  • Acupuncture is a technique to stimulate points in the body to move, generate, or remove qi to facilitate the body to heal naturally.
  • Acupuncture may be applied locally to diseased areas, or distally along the meridians to affect organs or tissues influenced by those meridians.

What is the evidence?

  • Areas of skin with acupuncture points have been shown to have greater electrical conductivity, and some have a greater concentration of nerves than other parts of the body.
  • Needling points for vision in the foot that are not related by any measurable anatomical structures to the vision still produce a change in the vision center of the brain as evidenced by MRI imaging.
  • Arguments that explain pain efficacy of acupuncture through stimulation through the neural network to the limbic system and pituitary glands to produce endorphins do not explain its effectiveness in nausea and vision studies. This basically means, it’s not just endorphins that are providing relief, another mechanism is at work.
  • If acupuncture worked through endorphins alone needling any point would theoretically have the same effect, and acupuncture would be no more effective in treating illness than going on a 20 minute run. But acupuncture works on a series of specific energy channels that flow through the body, each of which have their own specialized effects. So with correct diagnosis and correct needle placement acupuncture is far superior in illness prevention and amelioration than any simplistic endorphin-based model can explain.
  • No physiological evidence has been found to show exactly what acupuncture is doing, but one explanation is as follows: The body is lazy. If it can get away with ignoring a disease, it will. But if you insert needles in the body, the body responds as though it is under attack. It sends its defensive mechanisms to the needling site, as well as distal sites stimulated by the needle. In this way the body is compelled to act, rather than to ignore the problem.

How deep do the needles go?

  • Depth of insertion is usually ¼ to 1 inch and depends on patient’s size, age, constitution, sensitivity to needles, and the nature of the condition being treated. Some points may go deeper, however, usually the deepest point is located on the hip, and a needle here may be inserted up to 3 inches or more.

Is there pain with needling?

  • Some patients feel nothing.
  • Some patients feel slight pain on insertion of needles, but this depends largely on the type of needle used, the technique employed by the acupuncturist, the location of point needled, and the sensitivity of the patient. Care will be taken to minimize needle insertion pain as much as possible.
  • The needles employed in acupuncture are much thinner than hypodermic needles employed in western medicine, and so with equal insertion speed and location are much less painful on insertion.
  • After needle insertion the needle may be stimulated at which time the patient may experience numbness, tingling, or pressure.
  • Pain may also be experienced if patient moves after needles are inserted as this will stimulate the needles. But this is also highly individual as I have seen some patients with needles inserted up to an inch and a half in their neck and lower back get up off the massage table, walk to the bathroom, and come back to lie down (all without complaining). But if you need to use the bathroom, please just ask and your needles will be removed.
  • More sensitive patients will receive thinner needles, needles will be inserted more shallowly, and fewer needles will be used. Patients that enjoy stronger stimulation will receive it.
  • Numbness, tingling, or soreness may also linger for 2-3 days after the treatment, but this is normal and will resolve naturally.

Acupuncture Safety

  • All needles are pre-packaged, sterilized, and disposable. Needles are discarded in puncture proof sharps container after each patient.
  • Side effects are minimal in acupuncture treatments. More common side effects are numbness, tingling, soreness, or bruising at or near needling sites which may last for a few days.
  • Soreness may linger for a few days after Tui Na Medical Massage. This is more likely for more severe and more chronic musculoskeletal diseases.
  • Overall, Traditional Chinese Medicine provides techniques such as acupuncture, medical massage, and herbal medicine that are relatively safe and free of side effects as compared to its Western Medicine counterpart.