How Does Acupuncture Work?
Many cultures throughout history have influenced modern Western medicine. For instance, traditional Chinese medicine evolved over thousands of years to incorporate herbal remedies and techniques like tai chi. These methods are now generally regarded by doctors as safe means of reducing a variety of symptoms. Another notable Eastern health practice is known as acupuncture. This technique involves stimulating the body’s nervous system by inserting thin needles into the skin. Like any alternative healing method, it’s the subject of much study and debate. Is acupuncture safe? Does it hurt? How does acupuncture work? Let’s take a moment to answer these common questions.
What Is Acupuncture?
This form of traditional medicine originated in China at least 2,000 years ago. It sought to balance the qi, or life force, of an individual by targeting their body’s energy “meridians.” These channels align with the nervous system and are said to flow throughout the body. In acupuncture, tiny needles are shallowly inserted into the skin at specific points where this energy flows. This serves to reestablish circulation which nourishes the body’s tissues and internal organs.
People experience acupuncture needling differently. Most patients only feel slight discomfort as thin needles are inserted. However, once they are in place, patients will feel no pain. Acupuncture needles are very thin and made from solid stainless steel. They are smooth and disposable, reducing the risk of bruising, irritation, and infection.
Traditional practices included techniques like cupping therapy, tongue assessment, and the use of Chinese herbs. Modern Western acupuncture focuses less on these traditional Chinese remedies and more on medical diagnoses. Medical acupuncture brings together knowledge from Eastern and Western medicine to inform a holistic therapy. A large body of research suggests medical acupuncture is effective at easing symptoms associated with chronic pain and mood disorders.
Benefits of Medical Acupuncture
Medical acupuncture is used to relieve symptoms associated with a wide variety of conditions. Both the National Institute of Health and the World Health Organization officially recognize its efficacy. Treatments rarely take more than an hour and produce few, if any, side effects. You can expect to feel relaxed and even energized following your session.
Chronic Pain Relief
One of the most common conditions improved by acupuncture is pain. Such chronic pain can stem from migraines and tension headaches to the neck, lower back, and arthritis. How does acupuncture work, though? Patients tend to experience pain relief primarily due to nervous and circulatory system stimulation. In fact, one comprehensive 2012 study of nearly 18,000 patients found that acupuncture was effective for reducing chronic pain symptoms.
This meta-analysis examined the results of 29 randomized trials. It found that patients receiving acupuncture had less neck and back pain, as well as symptoms from osteoarthritis and chronic headaches. Researchers also noted that these results were statistically significant and superior to both simulated acupuncture and control groups.
Mood disorders are common in the United States, affecting millions of adults annually. Major depressive disorder (MDD) produces persistent symptoms including fatigue, apathy, weight changes, sleep disturbances, and suicidal thoughts. Numerous medical treatments for MDD are available, but sometimes they aren’t effective. Furthermore, many antidepressant medications carry significant risks of adverse reactions including headaches, dizziness, nausea, loss of libido, and erectile dysfunction. The need for a natural alternative is clear, and acupuncture may be one solution.
A thorough review of various clinical trials found that acupuncture may reduce the severity of many MDD symptoms. It noted the benefits of acupuncture alone, as well as combined with pharmaceutical antidepressants. The researchers also highlighted the well-established safety of acupuncture and its minimal side effects.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) also affects millions of American adults. Its characterized by excessive anxiety about events or activities that occur for at least 6 months. These symptoms often disrupt patients’ daily social and work-related activities. Medical treatments also exist for anxiety disorders like GAD. However, they carry similar hazards to antidepressants, as well as the risk of abuse and overdose. Another notable literature review found that acupuncture produced statistically significant reductions in symptoms of anxiety disorders. Similar findings were also found in animal models, suggesting these results were not influenced by the placebo effect.
Medical Acupuncture Works
Traditional Chinese medicine has been used for thousands of years to improve countless symptoms. Many of these techniques, including acupuncture, are now widely accepted as effective alternative therapies in Western medicine. Medical acupuncture incorporates both Eastern and Western knowledge to relieve symptoms associated with chronic pain, mood disorders, and poor circulation. Are you still asking yourself, “How does acupuncture work?” We encourage you to contact us for a free consult today. We promise that our highly trained and qualified staff will treat you with the best care possible.
Aceso Total Health P.C.
7160 S. 29th St., Suite 7
Lincoln, NE 68516
Based in Lincoln, NE, our patient - centered, healthcare experience is integrated, proactive and personalized, leading to a more balanced and happier you.