Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine. It has been studied as a treatment for a variety of health conditions, from chronic pain to arthritis to asthma to infertility. Many scientific studies have shown acupuncture to be helpful for people with broad range of conditions.
An acupuncture treatment involves the insertion of thin metal needles at certain points around the body to alter the flow of energy. This energy, known as qi (pronounced chee) can cause problems in the body when its flow is out of balance, according to traditional Chinese medical theories. There are more than 400 acupuncture points on the body, but typically four to 12 are stimulated during each acupuncture treatment. Often, multiple treatments are needed to determine if the procedure will be effective.
More About Acupuncture
Some people are hesitant to try acupuncture because of a fear of needles, but most people who try it report little to no pain. The needles are also discarded after use so there is no chance of infection.
An acupuncture treatment can last from 45 to 90 minutes. The acupuncturist may use other means of manipulating the body as well, such as acupressure applied with the fingers, gentle heat or mild electrical stimulation.
Conditions That Acupuncture Helps
Despite its mythical qualities, acupuncture has shown solid results in many scientific studies. The U.S. National Institutes of Health regards it as a reasonable treatment for many types of pain, including headaches, neck pain and low back pain. Other studies have shown it to be helpful for anxiety, depression, dizziness and urinary problems. Acupuncture is also generally regarded as a safe treatment with few side effects.
It’s important to find a qualified and licensed acupuncturist if you’re considering the treatment. The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (www.nccaom.org) has a tool on its website that can aid in the search for a licensed acupuncturist.
SOURCES: National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine; Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine; National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Non-drug approaches that may work include acupuncture and electrotherapy, review finds