If getting shots at the doctor’s office isn’t your thing, you may find acupuncture rather intimidating. However, a lot of people who have had the procedure done find that it’s not as painful as one might think – and besides, the end result is usually pain relief.
Read on to learn about the process of acupuncture and what other options may be available if you can’t get past your needle anxieties.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Acupuncture is a centuries-old holistic form of medical treatment based on traditional Chinese medicine. Still very active in Chinese culture today, acupuncture is also used in other countries as well, including the United States. Acupuncture is used to alleviate pain, treat illness and make chronic conditions more manageable; but its primary goal is overall health and wellness via various prevention techniques. To accomplish this goal, very thin needles are used – along with heat and pressure – to recreate the balance of energy within the body that is believed to be the way to restore health.
Chinese acupuncturists believe that there are 12 main meridians that run through the body and carry an energy force which affects how internal organs and tissues function. Along these meridians, needles are placed at approximately 1,000 points in order to reestablish the balance of energy. Needles placed at just the right points on the body, acupuncturists say, can clear up any stagnant areas of blood flow and release the energy necessary for healing.
Some theorize that acupuncture actually works by stimulating endorphins in the brain, which naturally alleviate pain and give off a “feel-good” sensation. Acupuncturists also believe that if a person is ill and experiencing problems in one area of the body, their symptoms are actually related to some sort of weakness in another part of the body.
Though almost unheard of, acupuncture treatments have been known to cause some adverse reactions in patients – usually due to the misplacement of needles or some sort of physical weakness the patients had that the doctors were unaware of. One such incident, documented in The Lancet, a British medical journal, resulted in a patient’s death after undergoing acupuncture.
In fact, a needle placed in the patient’s chest region passed through his breastbone accidentally and pierced through to his heart.
Because the patient was born with a hole in his sternum, he was easily incapacitated by a simple needle prick to his chest. Though this was an unfortunate accident and such occurrences are rare, news of incidents like these do give acupuncturists pause and reason to be as inquisitive and careful as possible when dealing with patients.
Alternatives to Acupuncture
Since the concept of using needles and energy medicine techniques for healing is rather metaphysical or esoteric to some people, acupuncture isn’t as common a practice in the United States and other Western civilizations. Instead Western culture has sought other related disciplines that provide the same benefits without the dreaded needles. These practices utilize heat, ultrasound, suction, magnetic waves and lasers to stimulate the same points on the body that acupuncture would use.
Some acupuncturists even admit that these methods may be more effective and that needles aren’t necessarily the best way to treat a medical condition. To try these other treatments, you can get in touch with an acupuncturist or a doctor who specializes in holistic medicine.
To locate a qualified acupuncturist in your area, visit the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine online at www.aaaomonline.org.