Acupuncture 101

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is part of an eastern medical system called Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). With TCM, acupuncture is thought to alter the body’s flow of energy called Qi (pronounced chi). An acupuncturist or naturopathic doctor will correct imbalances of Qi by needling different meridian points on the body.

Acupuncture is also used in a western medical setting to treat pain and tight muscles. This is often referred to as dry needling or trigger point release. There are two proposed theories on why acupuncture reduces pain. Current research proposes that acupuncture releases endorphins, which produces an analgesic effect. Another common theory is called the “gate theory,” which hypothesizes that acupuncture activates the inhibitory pain nerve fibers that produce short-term pain relief.

What conditions can acupuncture treat?

Acupuncture can help with a variety of health concerns including:

  • Menopausal symptoms (hot flashes, night sweats)
  • PMS including breast tenderness, mood disturbances, menstrual cramps
  • Amenorrhea (lack of period)
  • Infertility
  • Arthritis
  • Pain
  • Headaches and migraines
  • IBS and digestive issues
  • Post-operative nausea and vomiting
  • Stress
  • Insomnia

Is it painful?

Acupuncture should not be painful and most patients do not feel the insertion of the needle. However, a quick “prick-like” or “pinch-like” sensation can be felt when the needle breaks the skin.

How many treatments do I need?

The number of treatment varies based on health condition. Typically 4- 10 treatments are needed to see results.

What are the side effects?

Common side effects include bruising and sore muscles post-treatment. More serious side effects include infection and pneumothorax. However, these side effects are rare with proper needling techniques and hygiene.

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