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Q. Is Acupuncture Painful?
A. People Feel No or Minimal Pain
Acupuncture needles are metallic, solid, and nearly hair-thin. Each individual experiences acupuncture differently. In general my patients feel no pain or only an initial small prick when the needle is inserted. They generally report feeling energized by treatment, and commonly feel like they just finished a great massage. It is common to feel light tingling sensations, or heavy ache sensations while having an acupuncture treatment. While the effects of acupuncture are blissful and the pain minimal there are situations that can result in pain. For instance if a patient moves while the needles are in there is a chance movement of muscle and skin tissue can irritate local nerves causing a temporary pain response. Additionally improper placement of needles can result in increased chance of a temporary pain response. Consequently it is important to find a competent and qualified acupuncturist. Training and competency can be discovered by asking educational training, and certificates or licenses held. Make sure your practicioner has a masters degree or greater in TCM. Additionally state and national licensing bodies issue certificates and licenses that demonstrate core competencies.
Q. Does Acupuncture really work?
A. Yes! Research shows 70%-80% of people gain relief from pain
Acupuncture does not work for everybody and every condition but, frequently, good results are achieved when more conventional medicine has failed. Patients don't need to believe in acupuncture for it to work. The effects of acupuncture are cumulative. Some people respond quickly while others experience little benefit until they have had a few treatments; this is more likely with a chronic, long-standing, condition. Occasionally the condition may become slightly worse at first. This is known as "healing crisis". This is actually a good sign as it usually means the energy is being moved through the organs and is smoothing blockages to prepare for a more balanced system.
Acupuncture is emerging as an efficacious treatment for a variety of conditions. Research is coming out every day with more promising results for the benefits of acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture is clearly demonstrating validity and efficacy in adult postoperative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting and in postoperative dental pain. The proven benifits of acupuncture don't stop there. There are many areas where preliminary research has called for further investigation due to possible promise. Additionally acupuncture has proven itself as a useful adjuct, as an important member of the multi-discipline approach, and even as an acceptable alternative when the following conditions were considered: addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low-back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma. An NCCAM-funded study recently showed that acupuncture provides pain relief, improves function for people with osteoarthritis of the knee, and serves as an effective complement to standard care.
Q. How does Acupuncture work?
While studies have documented and validated the effects of acupuncture, some researchers are met with difficulty in explaining how it works. More particularly how it works in reference to the framework of the western system of medicine that is commonly practiced in the United States. Others, however, realize it works, very effectively, through neurology.
Chinese medicine is underpinned by theories that lay the groundwork for its eventual application. Western medicine also is underpinned by theories that lay the groundwork for its eventual application. It is easier to understand the struggle researchers face when you understand they are trying to explain the workings of a mode of treatment that was developed on a different set of underpinning theories.
Traditional Chinese Medicine holds that health is achieved by maintaining the body in a "balanced state" and that disease is due to an internal imbalance. Because balance is at the core of Chinese medical theory, it is plausible that their measurement of health could vary from the western measurement of health. It is commonly said and often applied in western medicine that health is the result of ridding the body of disease. Chinese medicine goes deeper still and views that disease as a mere expression of an underlying imbalance. If balance is restored so is health. However, when the body is rid of a disease that body very often still feels off. This is evident in the fact that patients are often told there is nothing wrong, a response providing no answer and no resolution to their current complaints.
Chinese medicine holds that there is a network of energy roads highways, and freeways that run through the body. These lines of energy are called meridians. These meridians have more than 2,000 junctions and intersections with other meridians throughout the body, and express natural areas of high traffic. There are various things that can lead to a pooling of energy, and when it happens it must be directed properly to alleviate congestion and further injury to the area. Acupuncture needles are inserted below the skin layer where these meridians flow at specific sub-dermal areas commonly needing decongestion.
Western medical research has postulated that acupuncture produces its effects through regulating the nervous system. As a physician dually trained in TCM and chiropractic, nervous system regulation is of particular interest to me. The brain and nervous system is the command center for nearly every physiological function of the body from hormone production to muscle contration. If the nervous system can be regulated it therefore opens the door to unending possibilities. Acupuncture has been shown to aid in the production of pain-killing biochemicals such as endorphins and immune system cells at specific sites in the body. Further studies have even revealed that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones. This affect can influence the central nervous system altering sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes that regulate a person's blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature. This is no doubt why so many of my patients experience relief from pain, and feel more calm and resolute in keeping their commitments such as quitting alcohol consumption or smoking.
MRI studies of the brain demonstrate acupuncture points specific to the eye produce similar response as light stimulus to the eye.
MRI studies demonstrate specificity of acupoints, and explain how in some studies both sham and real acupuncture appear effective.
Q. Is acupuncture safe?
Safety and Health is our first priority. That is why we only use FDA approved acupuncture needles. Our needles are sterile, nontoxic and are for single use only. To prevent infection and avoid the spread of disease we do not re-use needles. Millions of patients receive acupuncture treatments each year in the U.S. alone with only a few rare complications. Those few and rare complications have resulted largerly from inadequate steriliztion of reusable needles. This calls for reiterating the need to find a competent provider with a minimum of a masters degree in TCM, and a certificate or license to practice from a state or national licensing body.
Q. Will Acupuncture interfere with my medications?
While Acupuncture will not interfere with pharmaceuticals it is important to note that it can provide an environment where the prescription works more efficiently. This is due to the ability of acupuncture to remove blockages and balance energetic pathways. As acupuncture removes blockages and balances your systems you will begin to feel better. Patients often decide this is the time to stop taking their medications. We strongly suggest if you feel ready to reduce dosage or stop taking medications that you consult the prescribing physician before doing so.
Q. Where does the interruption of energy flow occur?
The interruption of the flow of energy can result from any number of events ranging from emotional to physical trauma. the interruption happens as circulation is impeded in the channels located just under the skin layer. When interruption occurs here it is likely acupuncture will successfully correct and repattern the erratic flow.
An interruption of energy flow may also occur within the spinal column. When the vertebrae or surrounding joints are subject to inflammatory processes as a result of poor diet or trauma, compression of neural tissue most often results. It only takes the pressure exherted by the weight of a dime on nerve tissue to reduce its function by 70%. Acupuncture and Chiropractic work to free pressure on nerves, increase local circulation and improve disc hydration therby improving the flow of energy throughout the spine and body.
Q. Are there other causes of disease besides those associated with the interference of the transmission of energy flow?
There are other causes of disease, all of which can be altered or influenced by proper energy flow or the lack therof. Some of those other causes include Psychosomatic (Mind-Body) states, hereditary factors, poisons, adverse environmental conditions, injury, germs, malnutrition, etc…, all are disease producing.
Q. How do you detect the disturbance in energy flow within a patient?
Detecting a distubance in energy flow is achieved via a variety of methods. I commonly utilize pulse palpation and tongue inspection to discover which organs of the body are affected. The pulse is palpated bilaterally in three separate positions for rate, rhythm, amplitude, and quality. The tongue is observed to discover size, shape, color, coating, cracks, and sores. Other methods I use Include signs and symptoms, neuromuscular pain spots, and organ reflex points.
Q. What are some of the conditions commonly treated by acupuncture?
Because Traditional Chinese Medicine has successfully served populations throughout the world for thousands of years its students have been privileged to treat, heal and document virtually all illness man has experienced. As a result picking up a textbook on acupuncture will quickly reveal to the reader a broad scope of ailments and conditions for which acupuncture has proven successful. Typical ailments usually responding to acupuncture include: neuralgias, headaches, tics, spasms, muscular rheumatism, neuralgia of the shoulders and arm, tennis elbow, osteoarthritis, ulcers, stomach problems, diarrhea, asthma, bronchitis, shortness of breath, coughs, abnormal blood pressure, hemorrhoids, lumbago, bladder irritation, bed wetting, female disorders, impotence, hay fever, allergies, loss of smell, skin conditions, and even nervous or psychiatric factors based on the fact that mental problems often arise from physical disorders.
It is important to understand that acupuncture is not a one drug used for one condition, it is a complete healing art within itself. With a proven effects on systems of the body such as nervous, circulatory, digestive, respiratory, eliminatory, reproductive, hormonal, musculoskeletal, etc., acupuncture seeks to correct health problems by restoring balance not merely attacking or killing an organism.
Q. Out of ten patients accepted for acupuncture health care, how many usually respond favorable?
On the average, eight. Two out of ten fail to respond favorably for a variety of reasons. Advanced age, severity of condition, irreversible tissue damage, etc., are deterrents to recovery.