© JCE 2010
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese healing practice that has been used for over 2500 years to relieve pain and cure a wide range of illnesses. It is based on the theory that there are patterns of energy flow called Qi or Chi throughout the body that are related to the organs and tendino-muscular system. Pain and illness result when the energy flow is disrupted due to trauma, poor diet, medications, stress or other conditions. Acupuncture focuses on correcting these imbalances by inserting ultra-thin needles under the skin to stimulate specific points in the body. Stimulation unblocks the channels and encourages an even flow of Qi, restoring the body balance and relieving pain and other symptoms.
The complex diagnostic system used in acupuncture considers the person as a whole, rather than looking only at the individual symptoms. The primary aim is not just to eliminate or alleviate symptoms, but rather to treat the underlying cause, increase the ability to function, and generally improve the quality of life.
Today, acupuncture and is one of the newest primary health care professions in the United States. Its benefits, along with herbal therapy, are widely recognized and are being increasingly integrated with mainstream healthcare. Patients range from infants to seniors. Acupuncture has been scientifically proven as an effective treatment for a wide range of both chronic and acute conditions.
An acupuncturist's diagnosis is determined in part using methods similar to western practitioners: asking for a patient's complete medical history, performing a physical examination and ordering any necessary lab tests. Additionally, acupuncturists use unique diagnostic techniques that include taking the patient's pulse on both wrists and observing the tongue, complexion and other subtle signs of illness or pain.
Modern acupuncture needles are from one to three inches long, ultra-fine and made from flexible stainless steel. They are pre-sterilized, non-toxic and disposable. Ten to twenty needles are typically placed in several acupoints and are usually left in for about 20-40 minutes each treatment. When the needle is inserted into the skin, there is usually a slight prickling sensation that is rarely painful. The needle is inserted only a fraction of an inch through the skin and acupuncturists are trained to make this as undetectable as possible. Once the needle is in place, there is usually a tingling, numbness, heaviness or a feeling of warmth around the needle. This is the desired effect, indicating that the body is responding and balancing itself effectively. Acupuncture treatments are usually deeply relaxing and rejuvenating.