1. What is acupuncture?
As explained by the Chinese medicine, acupuncture is a technique for balancing the flow of energy in your body by inserting a thin needle through your skin at strategic point that corresponds to specific organs, sensory feelings or emotions of your body to reduce pain or treat some health conditions.
Generally, it is only used in combination with other forms of treatment. However, some practitioners view acupuncture as a painkiller and something that helps in increasing blood flow as a result of stimulating nerves and muscles.
The acupuncturist uses six to 12 needles during the treatment though amount of needles used doesn't correspond to the intensity of the treatment, instead actual placement of the needles is important.
Acupuncture is safe if it is administered by experienced practitioners by using clean, sterile and single use technique needles.
Although the principles of acupuncture remain the same, different styles have developed over the centuries based on different opinions, techniques and theories and they differ greatly. Acupuncture has spread from china to countries such as America, Korea, Japan and Vietnam.
The various styles of acupuncture are:
a) Auricular acupuncture where the ear is used because some points of the ear corresponds to different areas of the body. Auricular is used for pain relieve and addictions for drugs.
b) Traditional Chinese acupuncture whose main focus is to promote balance to the body.
c) Japanese acupuncture that uses thinner and fewer needles with less stimulation.
d) Korean hand acupuncture where the hand is used to treat the entire areas of the body.
e) Korean acupuncture where many needles are used unlike in Japanese style acupuncture.
f) Medical acupuncture.
2.How effective is acupuncture?
Studies suggest that acupuncture is largely inconsistent and it maybe only be effective for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, postoperative nausea and vomiting and idiopathic headache and may reduce certain types of pain though the effectiveness in reducing pain is low and short-term.
3. What are the risks?
a) If practitioners use a reused needle, you might be exposed to the risk of getting infections like hepatitis.
b) Bruising, soreness and minor bleeding at the points where needle is inserted.
c) It might result to premature delivery because it is thought to stimulate labor.
d) If practiced by in experienced practitioners, it may damage internal organs like lungs if needles are pushed in too deep.
4. What can acupuncture treat?
Acupuncture is believed to relieve pain associated to labor, headache mainly migraine headaches, tooth, menstruation and neck. In addition, it can also relieve discomfort related to certain diseases and conditions; arthritis especially osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, adhesive capsulitis of the neck, sinusitis, anxiety, common cold, stroke, trigeminal neuralgia, Meniere's disease, sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, allergies, pregnancy-related ailments, menopausal symptoms, asthma, weight loss, infertility, anti-aging, cancer and induced and postoperative vomiting and nausea.
5. How long doe the treatment take?
Treatment length varies from seconds to longer than one hour. Normally, it is about 20 to 30 minutes and the following techniques might be used during treatment.
a) Moxa where the acupuncture needles are heated with dried herb sticks to activate and warm the acupuncture point.
b) Cupping – glass cups are applied on the skin to create a suction
c) Herbal medicine – Chinese herbs may be given in the form of teas, pills, and capsules to supplement acupuncture treatment.
d) Electrostimulation where two to four needles of acupuncture are provided with electrical stimulation.
e) Laser acupuncture – Non-needle stimulation of needles.