Acupuncture is one of the oldest and most commonly used medical procedures worldwide. Originating in China more than 2,000 years ago, it was first popularized in North America in 1971 following James Restons’ New York Times article in which he described how Chinese acupuncture helped ease his pain following a surgery.
The term acupuncture describes a family of procedures involving stimulation of anatomical points on the body by a variety of techniques. American practices of acupuncture incorporate medical traditions from China, Japan, Korea, and other countries. The acupuncture technique that has been most studied scientifically involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles that are manipulated by the hands or by electrical stimulation.
People experience acupuncture differently, but most feel no or minimal pain as the needles are inserted. Some people are energized by treatment, while others feel relaxed.
Does acupuncture work?
According to the NIH Consensus Statement on Acupuncture, there have been many studies on acupuncture's potential usefulness, but results have been mixed because of complexities with study designs and sizes, as well as difficulties with choosing placebos or sham acupuncture. However, promising results have emerged in numerous studies showing the efficacy of acupuncture. For example, acupuncture was shown to be effective in adult postoperative and chemotherapy nausea and in postoperative dental pain. There are other situations--such as addictions, stroke rehabilitation, headaches, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low-back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma--in which acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment or an acceptable alternative or be included in a comprehensive management program.
Is Acupuncture Safe?
Improper needle placement, movement of the patient, or a defect in the needle can cause soreness and pain during treatment. This is why it is important to seek treatment from a qualified acupuncture practitioner. If performed by a qualified, conscientious practitioner, yes. Licensed Acupuncturists know the human anatomy well, and insert needles in a safe fashion. The instruments used to penetrate the skin are either pre-sterilized and disposed of after a single use, or similarly to surgical and dental instrument, disinfected and sterilized in an autoclave following each use.
The practitioner is well aware and sympathetic to clients’ concerns regarding transmission of infectious diseases. We therefore take every measure to insure cleanliness of our facilities and proper sterilization of all equipment similarly to all other healthcare professionals.
Bleeding rarely occurs, unless done so on purpose in specific situations. Even then the amount is minimal and in no way dangerous.
What is treatment like?
Most patients would say, "relaxing." Usually patients leave in less discomfort and are more functional than when they walked in. Sometimes the effects are too subtle to perceive, especially in the beginning of treatment. Yet after 5 to 10 treatments the improvements become more and more apparent.