Pain treatments are as diverse as the causes. From over-the-counter and prescription drugs to mind/body techniques. But when it comes to managing chronic pain, there is no guarantee that a single technique will produce complete pain relief. Relief can be found using a combination of treatment options.
The practice of this alternative medicine began in Asia, China to be precise, and consists of the strategic placement of very thin special needles at various depths to improve the health and well-being of the body.
Its etymological origin comes from Latin and its translation is puncture and needle, which is precisely what acupuncture is: a punctured needle. Acupuncture works to let chi, or energy, flow freely along its paths called meridians, which when a person begins to get sick is the consequence of an imbalance of forces. When chi circulates in the systems as it should, a person is in good health. Chinese medicine alone has recognized more than five hundred insertion sites where needles can be placed to promote health. When stimulated, these nerves cause a dull pain or a feeling of fullness in the muscle. The stimulated muscle sends a message to the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), causing the release of endorphins that block the pain message from being sent to the brain.
Modern physicians tend to cultivate existing medical treatments for maximum effectiveness, including this type of medicine. Today, treating needles with light, ultrasound, electric current, or heat are innovative techniques that have been developed. Due to the demand for acupuncture, many physicians are now placing this type of treatment at the top of their list of recommended options. We are seeing this more and more, especially here in Wellington.
Why is acupuncture the best treatment option?
The positive benefits of acupuncture incite 10 to 15 million Americans annually to seek an acupuncturist who will perform this ancient practice on them. Pain is the main reason why people want to experiment with acupuncture. Acupuncture points are said to be rich in nerves and low electrical resistance which may be why people after the session see immediate results of improvement in their health.
How can Acupuncture treat pain?
Acupuncture replaces medicine for chronic pain
What part of the body can acupuncture be applied to?
Acupuncture can be applied to various areas of the body when these symptoms exist:
- Headache, migraine
- Low back pain,
- Menstrual cramps
- Carpal tunnel syndrome,
- Tennis elbow
- Osteoarthritis (especially of the knee) and myofascial pain.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has on many occasions demonstrated a number of conditions under which acupuncture has been shown to be effective.
- High and low blood pressure
- chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
- Some gastric conditions, including peptic ulcer.
- Painful periods
- Dysentery: Inflammation of the intestines accompanied by bloody diarrhea
- Allergic rhinitis
- Morning sickness
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Dental pain
- Reducing the risk of stroke
- inducing childbirth (parto)
How is the procedure work?
An acupuncturist will examine the patient and assess his or her condition, insert one or more fine, sterile needles, and offer advice on self-care or other complementary therapies, such as Chinese herbs. The patient will be asked to lie on his or her back, front, or side, depending on where the needles will be inserted. The acupuncturist should use single-use disposable sterile needles. As each needle is inserted, the patient may feel a very brief stinging or tingling sensation. After inserting the needle, there is occasionally a dull pain at the base of the needle which then subsides. Acupuncture is usually relatively painless. Sometimes the needles are heated or stimulated with electricity after insertion. The needles will remain in place for 5 to 30 minutes. The number of treatments needed depends on the patient and his or her condition. A person with a chronic condition may need one or two treatments per week for several months. An acute problem usually improves after 8 to 12 sessions. Here in our Wellington office, we offer many packages for sessions so patients can save money on longer term treatments.
Does Acupuncture Have Risks?
All therapies including acupuncture may present risks,
The possible risks of acupuncture are:
- Bleeding disorder or taking anticoagulants.
- There may be bleeding, bruising, and pain at the insertion sites.
- Unsterilized needles can infect the patient.
- In rare cases, a needle may break and damage an internal organ.
- When inserted deep into the chest or upper back, there is a risk of lung collapse, but this is very rare.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates acupuncture needles as medical devices. Their manufacture and labeling must meet certain standards. Needles must be sterile, non-toxic, and labeled for single use by a licensed professional.
As with any complementary therapy, it is recommended to use it in conjunction with conventional treatments for chronic or serious illnesses. Here in our Wellington office, we suggest patients get a free consultation to better ascertain the risks as it pertains to them.
What has been the progress of acupuncture in the scientific environment?
Studies by scientists have analyzed acupuncture treatment and they have even gone as far as developing a non-invasive, painless biocapture device that can take samples of human biomolecules from specific regions of the skin. What they discovered was that when an acupuncture needle is inserted into the skin, nitric oxide is released from the surface of the human skin. Nitric Oxide (NO) is a key regulator of circulation and changes in circulation can have a direct impact on the development and persistence of pain. So by regulating the NO levels, at least we have 1 scientific explanation of how acupuncture can help with pain.
What is the difference between a dry puncture and acupuncture?
These practices share some similarities, and both claim to provide therapeutic pain relief. However, they involve different methods and should not be confused. People have used acupuncture for centuries, and now it is well regulated. Dry puncture has been developed more recently and there are no official guidelines. Acupuncture can be used for a variety of medical conditions. The main philosophy is that a body can be cured when chi, or healing energy, is released. Dry puncture is designed to relieve tension and pain in the muscles. Practitioners believe that inserting a needle directly into a knot or pressure point will release tension in the surrounding muscle.
What is dry puncture?
The main goal is to relieve muscle pain and cramps, but it can also help improve a person’s flexibility. A professional inserts short, thin, stainless steel filiform needles into the pressure points. Also called activation points, they are tight areas or knots in the muscles. The needles contain no fluid, and nothing is injected. Sports therapists and other physiotherapists often perform dry puncture. Due to the lack of regulations and guidelines, a person can perform dry needles with minimal training and without a license. It is often very difficult to know if a professional has received training, has adequate experience, or is performing the procedure correctly. The most common practice is to leave a filiform needle in the muscle for 10 to 30 minutes. However, there are two less common types of dry puncture:
The entry/exit technique , during which a professional inserts a filiform needle into a trigger point and removes it immediately. The results of a 2014 review suggest that this form of dry puncture does not provide any benefit. The non-activation point technique, during which a professional inserts needles into the surrounding muscle, rather than a knot or pressure point. Scientific studies on dry puncture are limited, although the body of research is growing. So far, some research has been positive. In 2012, dry puncture was found to be less effective than platelet-rich plasma injections in treating rotator cuff injuries. In 2017 they concluded that stretching was as effective as dry puncture in improving flexibility. Dry puncture may be more effective than no treatment, but there is nothing like traditional Chinese acupuncture. If you would like to know more about this medicine, feel free to call our Wellington office.
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