A Traditional Chinese Medicine To Treat Pain: Acupuncture

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the number of acupuncture users have increased from 4.2% to 6.3% of the population, which means 8.19 million to 14.01 million in 2002 and 2007, respectively.

Additionally, 25% saw the acupuncturist only once, 43.8% visited twice to five times, 16.5% visited 6–10 times, and 14.6% visited more than 10 times. This shows the necessity of the process of acupuncture.

What Is Acupuncture Mean?

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese method of treating pain by inserting thin needles through your skin at some strategic points on your body. This method is being used for overall wellness, including stress management.

Traditional Chinese medicine says acupuncture is a technique for balancing the energy flow or life force, also known as chi or qi. It is believed to flow through meridians in your body.

With the help of inserting needles into specific points along these meridians, the practitioners believe that the flowing energy will re-balance itself.

Generally Guidelines For Acupuncture

There is no such special preparation before the acupuncture treatment appointment. If it’s your first time, you will have many questions about how inserting a needle works in resolving pain.

Depending on your condition’s severity, the practitioner may recommend you may require to resolve your symptoms.

As per a clinical study of acupuncture, you might require treatment twice a week for two weeks in order to treat cluster headaches. Followed by one treatment per week for eight weeks.

You might feel tiny pricks when the needles are inserted for acupuncture treatment.

However, some people don’t feel anything at all. You can also consult with the practitioner about any concerns you have regarding discomfort.

What Does Acupuncture Treat?

Acupuncture helps in relieving discomfort diseases and conditions, such as:-

  • Chemotherapy-induced and postoperative nausea and vomiting
  • Pain in teeth
  • Headaches, such as tension headaches and migraines
  • Labour pain
  • Pain in the lower back
  • Pain in neck
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Respiratory complications, such as allergic rhinitis

Acupuncture has some worthwhile evidence indicating its effectiveness in treating people with multiple conditions and illnesses.

What Is The Risk Of Acupuncture?

The side effects of acupuncture are very low only if you are treated by a competent, certified acupuncture practitioner. Some common side effects of acupuncture are:-

  • Soreness
  • Minor bleeding 
  • Bruising while inserting a needle
  • Single-use, disposable needles to minimize the risk of infection. 

Acupuncture is not for everybody; people with the following conditions may be at risk:-

Bleeding disorder:  The risk of bleeding increases because of inserting the needles. In case you have a bleeding disorder or consume blood thinners, over bleeding may occur, causing you harm.

Have a pacemaker: The procedure of acupuncture includes using mild electrical pulses to the needles that can interfere with a pacemaker’s operation.

Pregnancy: Few acupunctures are thought to stimulate labour, which could result in premature delivery.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles into specific spots on your body, which causes little discomfort. Every practitioner has its own unique style, usually the blending aspects of Eastern and Western approaches to medicine. 

The practitioner will help you to know about the type of acupuncture treatment that will suit you the best based on your symptoms, behaviours, and lifestyle, such as:-

  • The parts of your body that are paining
  • The shape, coating, and colour of your tongue
  • Your face colour
  • The strength of your wrist

Before the treatment, the initial evaluation may require 60 minutes. Followed by a subsequent appointment that usually takes about a half-hour. 

The complete course of the acupuncture treatment involves many visits to the practitioner, depending on your severity. But usually, a treatment plan of one or two weeks is common.

Also Read: Can Acupressure Cure Erectile Dysfunction?

Acupuncture Procedure

The human body has many acupuncture points all over the body, in some cases, the acupuncture point might be located far from the area of pain. The practitioner will guide you with all the acupuncture points in your body. He may also ask you to remove clothing accordingly. 

He will provide you with a gown or towel and may ask you to lie on a padded table for treatment, such as:-

Needle insertion: The acupuncture needles are inserted to various depths at correct acupuncture points in your body. These needles are so thin that it just causes a little discomfort. 

The practitioner may insert 5-20 needles during the treatment, which may vary depending upon the pain severity. When almost all the needles are inserted at the saturation point, you may feel an aching sensation. 

Needle manipulation: The practitioner will try to gently move(manipulate) the inserted needles after providing heat or mild electrical pulses.

Needle removal: The practitioner will leave the inserted needle for 10 to 20 minutes; meanwhile, you are allowed to relax. After the time gets over, you won’t feel any pain or discomfort while removing the needles.

The Outcome

Just like other treatments, few people feel relaxed while others feel energized at the end. But the medicine may not suit everyone. In case your symptoms don’t improve within a few weeks, you should not try acupuncture.

On the other hand, many people find the treatment helpful by resolving their pain. Some studies suggest some types of simulated acupuncture works just as real acupuncture. Additionally, this treatment works best in people who believe in these procedures. 

Just like other treatments, acupuncture also has few side effects, such as trouble controlling pain with more-conventional methods.

The Bottom Line

No doubt, acupuncture may help you resolve the pain, but trying it on your own may worsen your situation due to qi imbalance. If you know the acupuncture points, you can press it using your fingers at home instead of inserting needles.


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Jim Carson

Jim Carson is the writer for the mental health section of CheapMedicineShop.com. He is certified in clinical mental health counselling and has conducted cognitive behaviour therapy for war veterans struggling with PTSD. Professionally and personally, Jim is an astute observer of human behaviour that reflects well in his work.