Acupuncture is a therapeutic method used to encourage natural healing, reduce or relieve pain and improve function of affected areas of the body. It is safe and is often used as an alternative to medications or even surgery.
How does it work?
Acupuncture stimulates the body to produce its own pain relieving chemicals called “endorphins”. Endorphins help to block pathways that relay pain messages from the body to the brain, resulting in relief of pain, general relaxation and biochemical restoration of the body’s own internal regulation systems. The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture stimulates the body’s natural healing abilities, reducing inflammation, and promoting physical and emotional well-being.
Who can benefit from acupuncture?
Acupuncture is effective in treating a variety of painful disorders, both acute and chronic. The World Health Organization has identified the benefits of acupuncture in the treatment of a wide range of medical problems including:
- Digestive disorders such as constipation and diarrhea
- Respiratory disorders such as asthma and sinusitis
- Neurological and muscular disorders such as headaches, back pain, tennis elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome
- Urinary, menstrual and reproductive disorders
Does it hurt?
People experience differing sensations with acupuncture. Most patients feel only minimal discomfort as the needles are inserted and some do not feel any pain. Once the needles are in place, there should be no significant discomfort. Acupuncture needles are extremely fine and are made from stainless steel. Two or three acupuncture needles would fit inside the barrel of a regular hollow needle used for injections.
How many treatments will be required?
The number of treatments will vary with each individual and the condition to be treated. For acute problems, only a few treatments may be required. In some cases, one treatment will be sufficient. For complex or longstanding conditions, one or two treatments a week for several weeks may be recommended with less frequent treatment as improvement occurs. 80 – 90% of patients improve to some degree with acupuncture. Acupuncture can be used in conjunction with other forms of care such as medical, chiropractic, physical therapy and massage therapy.
How long does one treatment take?
Treatment sessions usually last between 15 and 30 minutes.
How long will it take to feel relief after a treatment?
Relief may be immediate or occur within a few hours, or after a few days. In some conditions, several sessions may be required before improvement is noticed.
Do I have to believe in acupuncture for it to work?
No. A neutral or negative attitude will not block the effects of acupuncture. A positive attitude towards wellness may reinforce the effects of any type of treatment.
Is there any special advice to follow before and after an acupuncture treatment?
Acupuncture can be done at anytime. Patients are advised not to eat large meals before or immediately after treatments. It is best to avoid alcohol or sedatives for four hours prior to treatments. Pain medications may be taken as required. A short rest after treatment is recommended but not essential. Some patients feel unusually relaxed after treatments. Strenuous exercise is not recommended immediately after treatment. For painful conditions, avoid strenuous activity for 48 hours after treatment. Alcohol, and ideally caffeine and cigarettes, should be avoided for at least 2 hours after treatment. Medication, as directed by your physician, may be taken as required.