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Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles through your skin at specific points on your body. With its origins in traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is most commonly used to treat pain. Increasingly, it is being used for overall wellness, including stress management.
According to Traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture is a technique for balancing the flow of energy or life force — known as chi or qi (chee) — that flows through the meridians in the body. By inserting needles into specific points along these meridians, your energy flow will re-balance and health will be restored.
In addition, Western medicine view the acupuncture points as places to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue, stimulating your body's natural painkillers.
Acupuncture is used mainly to relieve discomfort associated with a variety of diseases and conditions, including:
To determine the type of acupuncture treatment that will help you the most, the Acupuncture Physician may ask you about your symptoms, behaviors and lifestyle. He or she may also closely examine:
The parts of your body that are painful
The shape, coating and color of your tongue
The color of your face
The strength, rhythm and quality of the pulse in your wrist
An acupuncture session may take up to 60 minutes, although some appointments may be much shorter. A common treatment plan for a single complaint would typically involve one or two treatments a week. The number of treatments will depend on the condition being treated and its severity. In general, it's common to receive 6 to 8 treatments.
Acupuncture points are situated in all areas of the body. Oftentimes the appropriate points are far removed from the area of your pain. Your Acupuncture Physician will tell you the general site of the planned treatment and whether you need to remove any clothing. A gown, towel or sheet will be provided. You lie on a padded table for the treatment, which involves:
* Needle insertion. Acupuncture needles are inserted to various depths at different points on your body. The needles are very thin, so insertion usually does not cause discomfort. People often don't feel them inserted at all. A typical treatment uses 5 to 20 needles.
* Needle manipulation. Your practitioner may gently move or twirl the needles after placement or apply heat or mild electrical pulses to the needles.
* Needle removal. In most cases, the needles remain in place for 10 to 15 minutes while you lie still and relax. There is usually no discomfort when the needles are removed.
Some people feel relaxed and others feel energized after an acupuncture treatment. But not everyone responds to acupuncture.