Acupuncture is an embodiment of alternative medicine and a key component of Traditional Oriental Medicine(TOM) in which fine needles are inserted through your skin following the strategic or meridian points on your body. As one of the fundamentalcomponents of Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture is typically utilized to treat symptoms of pain. However, its benefits extend further to stimulate overall wellness, including stress management.
Traditional Oriental Medicine explains acupuncture as a form of balancing technique to optimally manage the flow of energy or life force, known as chi or qi (chee), that circulates through the pathways (meridians) in your body. Acupuncture practitioners strive to re-balance the energy flow via the insertion of fine needles into the distinct and precise points along the body meridians.
To formulate a patient’s diagnosis according to the tradition utilized, the acupuncturist determines which acupuncture points to target by deliberately observing and inquiring about the patient. In TOM, the four diagnostic methods include inspection, auscultation and olfaction, inquiring, and palpation. Inspection is centered around the face and particularly on the tongue, including a thorough analysis of the tongueshape, tension, size, color and coating, and the absence or presence of teeth marks around the edge. Auscultation and olfaction focus on the auditory aspect by listening for definite sounds such as wheezing, and observing body odor.] Inquiring revolves around the “seven inquiries”: chills and fever; perspiration; appetite, thirst and taste; defecation and urination; pain; sleep; and menses and leukorrhea. Palpation is attentive to feeling the body for tender “A-shi” points and sensing the pulse.
Acupuncture points are predominantly stimulated via penetration of the skin by fine metal needles, which are manipulated manually by the acupuncturist or by electrical stimulation (electroacupuncture). Acupuncture needles tend to be constructed from stainless steel, allowing them to be flexible, durable, and sustainable from rusting. In adherence to safety guidelines, needles are disposed of with each usage to prevent contamination.
Acupuncture procedure Acupuncture points are stationedacross all areas of the body. Surprisingly enough, there are cases in which the appropriate points reside far from the area of your pain. After a thorough inspection and precise diagnosis, your acupuncture practitioner will communicate with you regarding the general site of the planned treatment and whether any clothing needs to be removed. A towel, gown, or sheet will be provided. The treatment will proceed after you have laid on a padded table, which involves:
- Needle insertion. Acupuncture needles are inserted via varying depths at strategic/appropriate points on your body. Since the needles are very fine, insertionoftentimes causes little to no discomfort as the majority of the patients do not feel them inserted at all. Between 5to 20 needles are utilized in a typical treatment session. You may experience a mild aching sensation when a needle arrives at the correct depth.
- Needle manipulation. It is common for your practitioner to gently twirl/move the fine needles after placement, apply heat or low-frequency electrical pulses to the needles.
- Needle removal. In most cases, the thin needles are stationed in place for 10 to 20 minutes while you lie still and relaxed. Usually, no signs of discomfort are experienced when the needles are removed.
Acupuncture is optimal when executed by appropriately trained practitioners who use clean (sterilized) needle techniques and single-use needles. Acupuncture has a low rate of adverse effects when optimally delivered, in which a high proportion of those effects are very minor.