Acupuncture: WHAT IS IT?
Acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and to improve functioning. This is done by inserting very thin needles, applying heat, or mild electrical stimulation at very precise acupuncture points.
HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK?
The classical Chinese explanation is that channels of energy run in regular patterns throughout the body and over its surface. These energy channels, called meridians, are like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues. An obstruction in the movement of these energy rivers is like a dam that backs up the flow in one part of the body and restricts it in others.
The meridians can be influenced by needling the acupuncture points; the acupuncture needles unblock the obstruction at the dams, and re-establish the regular flow through the meridians. Acupuncture treatments can therefore help the body’s internal organs to correct imbalances in their digestion, absorption, and energy production activities, and in the circulation of their energy through the meridians.
The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture point stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body’s own internal regulating system.
The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities, and in promoting physical and emotional well-being
WHAT IS THE SCOPE OF ACUPUNCTURE?
Acupuncture is a system which influences three main areas of health care.
1. Promotion of health and well-being.
2. Prevention of illness
3. Treatment of various conditions.
While acupuncture is often associated with pain control, in the hands of a well-trained practitioner it has much broader applications. Acupuncture can be effective as the only treatment used, or as the support of adjunct to other treatments and modalities.
The World Health Organization recognizes the use of Acupuncture in the treatment of a wide variety of clinical disorders, including:
Acute and Chronic Pain
Neurological and Muscular disorders
Urinary, menstrual, and reproductive problems.
Acupuncture is particularly useful in resolving physical problems related to tension, stress, and emotional conditions.
HOW MANY TREATMENTS WILL I NEED?
The number of treatments needed differs from person to person. For complex or long-standing conditions, one or two treatments a week for several months may be recommended.
ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS TO THE TREATMENT?
Usually not. As energy is redirected in the body, internal chemicals and hormones are stimulated and healing begins to take place. Occasionally, the original symptoms worsen for a few days, or other general changes in appetite, sleep, bowel or urination patterns, or emotional state may be triggered. These should not cause concern, as they are simply indications that the acupuncture is starting to work.
WHAT ARE THE NEEDLES LIKE? DO THEY HURT?
People experience acupuncture needling differently. Most patients feel only minimal pain as the needles are inserted; some feel no pain at all. Once the needles are in place, there is no pain felt.
Acupuncture needles are very thin and solid and are made from stainless steel. The point is smooth (not hollow with a cutting edge like a hypodermic needle) and insertion through the skin is not as painful as injection or blood sampling. The risk of bruising and skin irritation is less then when using a hollow needle.
DOES ACUPUNCTURE REALLY WORK?
Yes. In the past 2000 years, more people have been successfully treated with acupuncture than with all other health modalities combined. Today, acupuncture is practiced widely in Asia, Russia, and in Europe. It is now being used more and more in America by patients and physicians.
Acupuncture treatments can be given at the same time other techniques are being used, such as conventional medicine, osteopathic or chiropractic adjustments, and homeopathic or Naturopathic prescriptions. It is important that your Acupuncturist know everything that you are doing, so he or she can help you get the most benefit from all your treatments.
DO I HAVE TO BELIEVE IN ACUPUNCTURE FOR IT TO WORK?
ARE THERE ANY “DO’S AND DON’TS” FOR ME ON THE DAY OF TREATMENT?
Yes. To enhance the value of a treatment, the following guidelines are important:
Do not eat an unusually large meal immediately before or after your treatment.
Do not over exercise, engage in sexual activity, or consume alcoholic beverages for 6 hours before or after the treatment.
Plan your activities so that after the treatment you can get some rest, or at least not have to work at top performance. This is especially true for the first few visits.
Continue to take any prescription medications as directed by your doctor. Substance abuse (drugs and alcohol) especially in the week prior to treatment, will seriously interfere with the effectiveness of acupuncture treatments.
IS ACUPUNCTURE COVERED BY HEALTH INSURANCE?
Some insurance companies currently cover acupuncture costs, other companies do not yet recognize the value of acupuncture. Each health policy must be reviewed to determine acupuncture benefits.
I accept St. Joseph Health Systems (P5), Blue Shield, Blue Cross, Aetna, Cigna, ASHP, Worker’s Compensation, or any other policy which covers acupuncture.
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