What is Acupuncture?
It is a part of Traditional Chinese medicine dating back 5000 – 7000 years and is based on these ideas.
- Our bodies have fourteen major energy channels called meridians that flow through our head, arms, hands, legs, feet, trunk, and organs.
- Qi (you say “chee”) is a vital life force that flows through the channels to all the cells in our bodies.
- If Qi is not able to flow because the body is out of balance or there is a blockage it may result in pain and other symptoms of illness.
- Acupuncture is done with needles or by applying pressure to certain points which are along the meridians. This causes a greater flow of Qi to help release blockages and restore balance in the body. This supports the body’s own instinct to heal itself and maintain health.
How does it all work?
The meridians are channels the Qi flows through to every part of your body. Many thousands of years ago Chinese doctors found that Qi flows along fourteen major channels. One of the channels is in the center of the front of your body, and one is on the center of the back of your body. The other twelve are on the right and left sides of your body. There are also extra channels throughout your body. The Chinese have made maps showing where the channels are. They have found hundreds of points in these channels where Qi can be accessed and produce a greater flow. These points are called “acupoints”.
What happens when the flow of Qi is blocked?
- Weakened immune system
- Absence of health
A blockage can cause less Qi in one organ or part and it may also cause more Qi to build up in another part. At the first visit an acupuncturist will diagnose and choose a treatment plan for 1 - 12 or more points to balance the flow of the Qi.
How does the flow of Qi become blocked?
- Dirty air or water
- Disease in an organ like the liver
- Pain in muscle, bone, joint, or tendon
What is a treatment like and how long does it last?
A treatment includes
- physical exam
- includes checking the pulse
- looking at the tongue
- checking the voice
- feeling for tender acupoints
The acupuncturist decides which points to treat by past experience, and by reading and checking books and charts that list ancient formulas for a diagnosis. These charts and books are based on billions of cases of people over time.
Once the needles are placed you remain lying down to rest in the treatment room. A normal treatment is about 30 minutes.
How many treatments will I need?
Treatments for acute symptoms tend to take less time to resolve than those for chronic symptoms. If you are in the hospital, 1 – 2 treatments may decrease pain and nausea and help you to relax and rest. If you are receiving treatments in a clinic, some acupuncturists suggest 2 – 4 treatments a week for 8 – 16 treatments. Some people respond after 1 – 2 treatments. Some may not notice a change until the 8th or 9th treatment.
Will there be needles? Will they hurt? Are they safe?
The needles are fine, about the size of a human hair or a piece of thread. Some people notice a slight tingling feeling when the needle makes contact with Qi. At your first visit you may feel surprised at how relaxed and at ease you feel during the treatment. The needles come in presterilized packages. The US government insists acupuncturists follow very strict sterilization procedures.
How does it help?
- Decreases or relieves pain.
- Strengthens the immune system.
- Brings the body into balance.
- Decreases stress.
What are some of the common reasons people use acupuncture?
Research studies suggest that acupuncture may be helpful treating the following:
- Dental pain
- Nausea and vomiting after surgery or chemo
- Migraine headaches
- Low back pain
- Osteoarthritis of the knee
- Tennis elbow
- High blood pressure
- Menstrual problems
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 02/01/2013
Copyright © 02/01/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6970
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