For the past 2,500 years, people have been turning to acupuncture to help them out with a variety of ailments. There’s a reason it’s still a thriving practice as millions of Americans find relief from their chronic pain. If you’ve been wondering how does acupuncture work, then take a look at this guide our team here at Rise Chiropractic and Acupuncture put together.
What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture has its roots in ancient Chinese medicine. The ancient Chinese believed that the body was controlled by a life-giving force called the “qi”, which is pronounced chee. If the qi was flowing correctly and working normally throughout the body then a person would feel balanced and happy.
They also believed that illness was a result of the qi being blocked or otherwise not flowing properly. Needles were inserted into different parts of the qi depending on the ailment. Today, the practice is similar, although we now have scientific evidence to support why it works.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Acupuncture works by activating certain points in the skin around the body. Each thread-like needle is inserted into specific spots that are nerve centers in the skin. This slight injury, although painless, is enough to trigger the body to respond.
The response from the body activates the immune system, improves circulation, activates healing, and improves pain response. During a session, anywhere from 5 to 25 needles are inserted at different points around the body. These points are determined by both the philosophy and intuition of the practitioner. Sessions last anywhere from 10-20 minutes and it’s often combined with heat application, laser light, or pressure.
What Can Acupuncture Help With?
Acupuncture is most often used as a treatment for chronic pain, especially pain that is caused by inflammation. Other common uses for acupuncture include:
- Morning sickness
- Anxiety and depression
- Sinus headaches
- PMS and menstrual cramps
- Pain in the neck, back, knees, and head
- And many other conditions
There has also been some evidence to suggest that it could be an effective treatment for multiple sclerosis and cancer.
Benefits of Acupuncture
One of the greatest benefits of acupuncture is that it’s effective and comes with little risks. There aren’t many side effects, which is a common concern with taking traditional pharmaceuticals. It can also be combined with other treatments without any risks of drug interactions.
It’s a good option for those that can’t use other forms of treatment for their pain or have allergies to most medications. Most also find their acupuncture sessions to have a relaxing, healing effect. It can also have a positive effect on your mood as you see a reduction in stress and an increase in feelings of happiness and relaxation.
Are There Any Risks?
There are a few risks that come with acupuncture. The only adverse reactions have been from people not going to a certified practitioner or from unsterilized needles, which can cause infection. Some of the other risks include bleeding and bruising or complications to those who suffer from a bleeding disorder.
What to Expect During A Session
The practitioner will first meet with you to determine what your issue is. Practitioners are specially trained in the insertion points all over your body, known as acupuncture points, which are located on meridians. After assessing your issue, the practitioner will determine which points to use.
You’ll then be asked to lie down either on your back, front, or side depending on where the needles will be inserted. The practitioner will use a single-use sterile needle and insert one into each acupuncture point necessary to return your body to balance. You might feel slight stinging when the needle is first inserted. You also might periodically experience a dull ache that comes and goes during the session.
How Long Does the Session Last?
The needles will be left in place between 5 to 20 or 30 minutes depending on your issue. Sometimes the needles are heated or stimulated with slight amounts of electricity after they are inserted. The first session can last up to 90 minutes as the practitioner takes time to ask health history questions and get a good picture of what’s going on.
Dr. Klosterman will also discuss your lifestyle or diet changes that might help you out. Sometimes, acupuncture is also combined with Chinese herbs to make sure you get the full benefits of the treatments.
How Many Sessions Will I Need?
The number of treatments you’ll need depends on what your issue is. If you suffer from chronic pain or prolonged pain from an injury, then you might need several treatments a week for a few months or even longer. Typically speaking, most problems are resolved after about 8 to 12 sessions.
Does It Hurt?
As stated above, there might be slight tingling or a dull ache. However, most describe acupuncture as a painless experience. Even for those who are afraid of needles, the needles we use are so tiny that you don’t feel much when they are inserted. If there’s any discomfort at all, most would agree that it’s worth the large reduction in symptoms they experience afterward.
Where Can I Get It Done?
If you’re ready to see if acupuncture can help you, it’s important that you go to a licensed practitioner. A list of these practitioners can be found at the National Certification Commission in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. You should also speak with the practitioner beforehand to see how long they’ve been in practice and how much experience they have. Most insurance companies do cover the cost of acupuncture but check with your insurance to make sure.
Call Us to Help You Out
Dr. Klosterman and the rest of us here at Rise Chiropractic and Acupuncture want to see you living your best life. If you’ve been dealing with chronic pain or other issues that traditional medicine doesn’t seem to be helping with, then we’d love to chat with you. Give us a call today so we can schedule your appointment!