Acupuncture is a treatment modality that involves the use of needles to relieve pain, boost well-being and cure some other conditions. Needles are inserted at specific points on the body called acupuncture points with the aim of balancing vital energy.
Acupuncture originates from Traditional Chinese Medicine which believes that health is a result of a balance between “yin” and “yang” of the life force “qi“. When there is an imbalance between these forces, then illness occurs.
The force flow through the human body can be accessed through 350 specific points on the body called acupuncture points. By inserting needles in the right combination at this point, a balance of the life force occurs resulting in a relief of pain and providing a form of therapy for ill health.
Depending on where the needles are to be put, the patient will be instructed to lie down on their back, front, or one side. Single-use, disposable, sterilized needles should be used by the acupuncturist. The patient may experience a momentary stinging or tingling sensation when each needle is inserted.
After the needle is implanted, there is sometimes a dull aching at the needle’s base that goes away. Acupuncture is usually a painless procedure. After insertion, the needles are sometimes heated or stimulated with electricity. The needles are expected to stay in place for 5 to 30 minutes.
The number of treatments required varies by person. A person who suffers from a chronic illness may require different sessions over a period of time.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), acupuncture can be used to relieve the following conditions:
Acupuncture has also been proven to be an effective form of therapy for the following conditions, as listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO):
- high blood pressure
- low blood pressure
- chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
- some gastric conditions, including peptic ulcer
- painful periods
- allergic rhinitis
- facial pain
- morning sickness
- rheumatoid arthritis
- tennis elbow
- dental pain
- reducing the risk of stroke
- inducing labor
- post-operative convalescence
- substance, tobacco, and alcohol dependence
- spine pain
- stiff neck
- vascular dementia
- whooping cough, or pertussis
- Tourette syndrome
Acupuncture should always be performed by a certified acupuncturist to ensure safety and avoid any complications. There are few side effects that occur on rare occasions. These include:
- pain at the puncture site
- bleeding or bruising
- worsening of pre-existing symptoms