Acupuncture, in its classical form is a characteristic component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). According to traditional Chinese medicine, stimulating specific pressure points corrects imbalances in the flow of acupuncture through channels known as meridians.

Acupuncture is one of many forms of traditional Chinese medicines that is known to bring the mind, body, and spirit into harmony.

Acupuncture’s use for treating certain conditions has been recognized by the United States National Institute of Health, the National Health Service of the United Kingdom, the World Health Organization, and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

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What To Expect

A procedure involving penetration of the skin with very thin needles to stimulate certain points on the body. Generally, clients do not experience pain.

Each therapist who performs acupuncture has a unique style, often blending aspects of Eastern and Western approaches to medicine. To determine the type of acupuncture treatment that will help you the most, your practitioner may ask you many questions 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

This initial evaluation may take up to 60 minutes. Subsequent appointments usually take about a half-hour. A common treatment plan for a single complaint would typically involve six to 12 treatments, scheduled over a few months.

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Acupuncture points are located in all areas of the body. Sometimes the appropriate points are far removed from the area of your pain. Your acupuncture practitioner will tell you the general location of the planned treatment and if articles of clothing need to be removed. If appropriate, a gown, towel or sheet will be provided to preserve your modesty.

After you lie down on a padded table, the treatment begins:

• Needle insertion. Acupuncture needles are very thin, so insertion usually causes very little discomfort. Between five and 20 needles are used in a typical treatment. You may feel a deep, aching sensation when a needle reaches the correct depth.

• Needle manipulation. Your practitioner may gently move or twirl the needles after they’ve been placed. Another option is to apply heat or mild electrical pulses to the needles.

• Needle removal. In most cases, the needles will remain in place for 10 to 20 minutes while you lie still and relax. There is usually no sensation of discomfort when the needles are removed. Your acupuncture practitioner should discard the needles after removal — reusable needles can spread infection.

Some people feel relaxed while others feel energized after an acupuncture treatment. But not everyone responds to acupuncture. If your symptoms don’t begin to improve within a few weeks, acupuncture may not be the right treatment for you.

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Aung, SKH; Chen WPD (2007). Clinical Introduction to Medical Acupuncture. Thieme Medical Publishers. ISBN 9781588902214.
Barnes, LL (2005). Needles, Herbs, Gods, and Ghosts: China, Healing, and the West to 1848. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674018729.
Cheng, X (1987). Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion (1st ed.). Foreign Languages Press. ISBN 711900378X.
Needham, J; Lu GD (2002). Celestial Lancets: A History and Rationale of Acupuncture and Moxa. Routledge. ISBN 0700714588.
Singh, S; Ernst, E (2008). Trick or Treatment: Alternative Medicine on Trial. London: Bantam. ISBN 9780593061299.
Madsen, M. V.; Gøtzsche, P. C; Hróbjartsson, A. (2009). “Acupuncture treatment for pain: systematic review of randomised clinical trials with acupuncture, placebo acupuncture, and no acupuncture groups”. BMJ 338: a3115. doi:10.1136/bmj.a3115. PMC 2769056. PMID 19174438.
Wiseman, N; Ellis, A (1996). Fundamentals of Chinese medicine. Paradigm Publications. ISBN 9780912111445.

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