Acupuncture started in China several thousand years ago. Chinese Medicine sees the working of the body and mind as the result of the interaction of energy, or Qi (pronounced chee) in the body. This Qi must flow freely and in the correct strength and quality if the body is to function correctly. When the Qi is impaired, illness will occur. Acupuncture directly affects the energy pathways (meridians).
Various needles are inserted into acupuncture points on the body. These points are located along and joined together in ‘channels’, or ‘meridians’, along which Qi flows. The points used in treatment are carefully chosen by the Acupuncturist to disperse any blockages and to bring the patient’s Qi into balance. Acupuncture promotes the healthy flow of Qi throughout the body. As the balance and harmony is restored, symptoms of the illness will disappear.
The initial evaluation includes a thorough medical and personal history, description of complaints, a review of the functioning of the systems of the body, and a physical examination. This includes evaluating the Chinese pulses from which the acupuncturist can determine the state of the energy in each of the major organs. The diagnostic tools of classical Chinese medicine include analyzing a patient’s facial color, skin tone, voice, and demeanor. Through this process, the flow of Qi is evaluated and the underlying cause of the condition is determined.
The needles that are used are stainless steel, disposable needles that come in pre-sterilized, sealed packets, which are discarded after use. Because the needles are about the thinness of a hair, insertion is hardly felt. There maybe an occasional sharpness or a dull ache, but these sensations are only momentary.
The number of treatments varies from person to person. It depends on the severity of the disease, how long the patient has suffered from it, and the lifestyle and other factors contributing to the disease. Typically, treatments are given three times per week for
four to six weeks. As the patient improves, visits are reduced to once or twice a week.
As acupuncture is a preventative system of medicine, as well as curative, it is advisable for healthy patients to come in periodically for checkups and maintenance.
Acupuncture is a medical treatment, which can relieve symptoms of some physical and psychological conditions, and may encourage the patient’s body to heal itself.
In the past twenty years there has been a considerable amount of scientific research on acupuncture. The National Institutes of health reported in the November 1998 issue of the JAMA that acupuncture is effective in adult postoperative and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and in postoperative dental pain. Acupuncture may be useful as adjunct treatment in addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthriris, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma.