For people unfamiliar with acupuncture, this alternative form of therapy is “that zen thing that involves pricking people with needles.” Technically, acupuncture is zen since it is a form of traditional Chinese medicine rooted in the belief that the body is a balance of yin and yang. It also involves pricking the skin with needles. But there’s more to acupuncture than these.

Acupuncture is a form of alternative treatment that uses thin needles to balance the energy of an individual. As claimed, it can help boost your overall wellbeing, as well as cure some illnesses.

People visit their acupuncturist when they experience one (or more) of the following conditions:

  1. Blood pressure problems
  2. Headaches
  3. Whooping cough

If you’re looking for another form of natural treatment, acupuncture might be on your list. But if you’re new to it or are skeptical that needles can help you, there’s plenty to learn about this alternative form of treatment. You may have plenty of questions, too.

So here’s everything that you need to know about acupuncture.

How Does it Work?

According to traditional Chinese medicine, the state of one’s health is the result of the harmonious balance between two extremes: the “yin” and the “yang.” An imbalance between the two forces can cause sickness.

The life force, also known as “qi,” follows through pathways in the body. These energy flows are accessible through the body’s different acupuncture points.

Inserting needles into these points with the right combination is said to redirect positive energy back to the body, which restores the balance between the two extremes.

Some experts have joined the conversation, using neuroscience to strengthen the claims of acupuncture. According to such studies, acupuncture points are seen in places where connective tissue, muscles and nerves can be stimulated. The stimulation increases blood flow, which triggers the body’s natural painkillers.

Do the Needles Hurt When You Get Poked?

Typically, acupuncture should be painless, but you will feel a slight pressure at the insertion site.

Some people experience a little prick, accompanied by numbness or a tingling sensation, but that’s just it. Most patients find the session so soothing, they end up falling asleep. Rest, after all, is a big part of acupuncture.

What is an Acupuncture Good For?

For the most part, people seek this alternative medical treatment for pain relief.

But according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), acupuncture is proven to help ease the following conditions:

  • Migraine and headache
  • Knee pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Lower back pain
  • Neck pain

In 2003, the World Health Organization listed the following conditions where they say acupuncture may help:

  • Facial pain
  • Morning sickness
  • Dental pain
  • Sciatica
  • Tennis elbow
  • Low and high blood pressure
  • Painful periods
  • Peptic ulcer
  • Sprains
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Allergic rhinitis
acupuncture concept
Photo by Antonika Chanel on Unsplash

What Can You Expect on Your First Appointment?

On your first day of acupuncture, expect to do a lot of talking. Your first session includes an in-depth consultation with your practitioner. Your acupuncturist will ask you different questions that may feel unrelated to your chief complaint, so keep in mind that these questions can help your practitioner create a more personalized treatment plan.

They will also do an assessment, which may include checking your nails, skin, pulse and tongue and listening to the sound of your voice.

After the initial intake of data, your acupuncturist will then choose the right acupuncture points combination to help alleviate your pain. Since there are more than 3500 acupuncture points, there will be plenty of factors to consider. The needle’s insertion depth will depend on the patient’s constitution, the location of the condition, the intention of the acupuncturist and more.

The entire procedure can take 30 minutes. Sometimes, even less. Some acupuncturists play guided meditation or soothing music to help patients nap, relax or focus more on themselves.

Will the Acupuncturist Use Other Tools Apart from Needles?

Some practitioners use herbs along with needles. They pair Chinese herbs along with acupuncture to bring balance to your body.

This holistic approach is said to offer relief from menstrual pain, hormone disorders and headaches, as well as reduce stress, improve your immune system, improve your sleep, enhance mental clarity and more.

Are There Risks?

Like all therapies, acupuncture has potential risks, which are:

  • Soreness, bruising and bleeding at insertion sites
  • In rare cases, the needle can break and damage an organ
  • If the patient has a bleeding disorder, they could be prone to bleeding

Before you undergo acupuncture, get in touch with your doctor first. If they give you the go signal, work with a trusted acupuncturist for your peace of mind.

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