You’ve probably seen it on TV or in the movies, but have you ever considered giving acupuncture a try. In tandem with other types of treatment, such as chiropractic care or massage therapy, acupuncture can effectively treat a wide range of health issues. While more research is needed to truly understand the full impact of acupuncture on your physical and mental wellness, early research is pointing to positive effects.
Here, we’re taking a closer look at the art of acupuncture and how this traditional form of Chinese therapy (practiced for thousands of years) actually works. By understanding more about the process, you may find that acupuncture is right for you. As a safe, holistic, and effective approach to care, acupuncture can help treat many health issues.
What is Acupuncture?
Before we dig into the process, it’s helpful to first have a clear definition of this practice. According to the renowned Johns Hopkins Medicine school, acupuncture can be understood as the “practice of penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles which are then activated through gentle and specific movements of the practitioner’s hands or with electrical stimulation.” Acupuncture is performed by a licensed acupuncturist or certified specialist who understands how to perform this procedure both safely and effectively. Surprisingly to many, acupuncture has been around for much longer than even at Johns Hopkins University.
Acupuncture is a traditional form of treatment that has been used for thousands of years and originated in China. For roughly 3,000 years, acupuncture has been used to effectively treat a range of healthcare issues and mental issues. Acupuncture is based on an old Chinese belief in the flow of your body’s energy, called Qi, that is responsible for your health and wellness. Your Qi flows through your body on specific pathways that connect thousands of acupuncture points over your body.
When acupuncture is applied to a specific energy point in your body, studies suggest that acupuncture effectively treats many different kinds of health issues. It can help you relax, find relief from pain, and improve blood flow and circulation. As a safe, non-invasive, and holistic type of care, acupuncture can be beneficial for many different individuals.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Now that we know more about this type of treatment, let’s explore how acupuncture actually works. This healing process begins when your acupuncturist inserts very thin needles into various points of your body. The points that will be targeted will be determined by your specific healthcare needs, such as where the pain is occurring.
After insertion, the needles stimulate the central nervous system, which affects almost every aspect and functioning of your body. This stimulation in the central nervous system releases beneficial chemicals to your muscles, brain, and spinal cord—all major nerve centers in the body. Some studies suggest that this biochemical reaction actually stimulates your body’s natural healing process to help you recover from injuries and ailments, find quick pain relief, and benefit your overall wellness.
One of the most common concerns for first-time patients is whether or not acupuncture will hurt. With needles being inserted into your body, this is a fair concern. But the needles used in professional acupuncture are so small and thin (much smaller than a needle for a flu shot, for example), that you hardly even feel the insertion. For most patients, an acupuncture needle only feels like a light bit of pressure. In fact, acupuncture is usually so relaxing and pain-free, that some patients have been known to fall asleep during the procedure. This is all because acupuncture is working naturally with your body, not against it, to provide pain relief and encourage healing.
What Can Acupuncture Treat?
Acupuncture has exploded in popularity in recent years partly because it can be used to treat a wide range of health problems and conditions. As a holistic and safe type of care, people are amazed to learn how acupuncture can benefit their overall physical and mental health. Acupuncture truly responds to the entirety of your body and health.
Curious as to what acupuncture can treat? Take a look at some of the most common health problems that can be addressed by a licensed acupuncturist:
- Neck pain.
- Back pain.
- Sciatica pain.
- Sciatica pain.
- Stress and anxiety.
- Sinus problems.
- Headaches or migraines.
And this is just the beginning. Researchers are continuing to learn more about the holistic effects of receiving acupuncture.
The Benefits of Acupuncture Care
Acupuncture offers a range of benefits—both for your physical and mental health. Studies are still needed to understand the full impact of acupuncture care, but initial studies have positive evidence of the effects of acupuncture.
Some of the top benefits of acupuncture include:
- Quick relief from pain.
- Improved mobility.
- Better blood flow throughout the body.
- Few (if any) side effects.
- Safe, especially compared to invasive forms of treatment.
- Safe alternative to pain medication.
- Beneficial in tandem with other treatments, like chiropractic care.
Conclusion – Does Acupuncture Work?
At first, it might seem like sticking dozens of thin needles into your body sounds like a crazy version of treating healthcare issues. But just because you aren’t experienced with acupuncture or know much about this traditional type of care, you shouldn’t immediately dismiss it as an option for you.
Countless patients have found pain relief, better mobility, and faster healing (in addition to multiple other benefits) by receiving acupuncture from a licensed acupuncturist. Many are surprised to learn that chiropractors may also be able to offer acupuncture care. Compared to other types of treatment, like medications or major surgeries, acupuncture is a holistic, non-invasive, and safe approach to treatment. While science is still learning more about the potential benefits of acupuncture, you can experience the benefits today. Contact your local wellness center or a local chiropractor’s office to learn more.