What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the insertion of thin, metal needles to stimulate specific points of the body that reach meridians. These stimulation points are called acupuncture points or acupoints. Traditional Chinese medicine holds that there are 365 commonly used acupuncture points on 20 meridians on the human body. Typically, it takes 15 to 30 minutes of manipulating the needles in these acupuncture points and 30 to 60 minutes of retaining the needles. By doing so, it regulates the flow of qi throughout the body and restores health to the mind and body, thus balancing the yin and yang. The insertions of needles are manipulated either by the hand or by electrical stimulation, called electroacupuncture.
Most people report feeling minimal pain as the needle is inserted. The needle is inserted to a point that produces a sensation of pressure or ache. Needles may be heated during the treatment or mild electric current may be applied to them. Some people report acupuncture makes them feel energized. Others say they feel relaxed. Every patient may experience differently; patients may experience bruising, minimal bleeding, needle site pain and sensation. Patients should inform the practitioner if any discomfort arises.
Acupuncture points are believed to stimulate the central nervous system. This, in turn, releases chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These biochemical changes may stimulate the body's natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being.
National Institutes of Health (NIH) studies have shown that acupuncture is an effective treatment alone or in combination with conventional therapies to treat the following:
Nausea caused by surgical anesthesia and cancer chemotherapy
Dental pain after surgery
Low back pain
Carpal tunnel syndrome
It may also help with stroke rehabilitation
Conditions that could benefit from acupuncture include the following:
Irritable bowel syndrome
Muscle pain and weakness
Neurogenic bladder dysfunction
Some forms of impotence
Differences between dry needling and TCM acupuncture?
Dry needling is a technique used by Western practitioners such as physiotherapists, chiropractors, and occupational therapists etc. based on strictly body anatomy. Thin metal needles are inserted in specific muscle trigger points to release tension and pain. Dry needling does not apply any TCM principals nor diagnosis.
Depending on the nature of the condition, the treatment cycle varies. For example, when treating body pain, you may feel an instant release after just one session, however, it is recommended to have one complete treatment cycle that is prescribed by your acupuncturist for better and faster recovery. A person with a chronic condition may need one to two treatments a week over several months. An acute problem normally improves after 8 to 12 sessions.