The Point of Acupuncture Goes Beyond Needles
Say acupuncture. People think needles. Acupuncture is not so much about the needles as it about balancing the body's energy system or qi (pronounced chee). The concept of practitioners inserting needles into points seems to be what everyone thinks of when they think of acupuncture.
Acupuncture is a medical practice that is thousands of years old. It originated in Asia. Throughout the country of China, there are many different theories and ways of practicing. As time passes, more and more of this information is being translated and practiced in the Western World.
Needles are a major factor in acupuncture. The needles used in acupuncture are not the large size syringes that people are familiar with from their doctor's office. These are solid needles that are about the size of a dressmaker's pin and smaller.
Energy, or qi, flows throughout the body. Qi concentrates its flow through major pathways, called channels or meridians. On each channel are points where qi can be manipulated by a skilled practitioner. These are the places the acupuncturist chooses to needle.
Through the choice of points to needle, a practitioner can balance the body's qi and thereby alleviate the symptoms of disease or illness. In order to make lasting change, the patient must have a series of treatments. The body becomes habituated to certain imbalances and though the patient may feel better after a treatment to correct this, it is natural for the body to go back to its familiar way of being. This may explain why acute problems, such as an injury, generally respond more quickly to acupuncture treatments than long term ailments.
After the needles are inserted, the patient can expect to lie on the table with the needles for about twenty to thirty minutes. In some cases, this will be longer. During this time, there is rarely any discomfort. It can be a very relaxing time for the patient. After this rest, the acupuncturist will remove the needles and perhaps do a bit of massage if there is a painful area. They will make recommendations about when the patient should return and any other types of treatments that may be beneficial to the patient.
Acupuncture has few side effects and these are typically limited to bruising in the local area. Some patients will feel tired after a treatment but this is typically because they are in a greater state of relaxation than their body is used to. Some other patients feel energized. Most people feel a sense of well being, though there are those who feel little change after the first couple of treatments. Rarely does someone feel worse and often that is only a temporary worsening of symptoms and then greater relief sets in.
Although acupuncture isn't a one time treatment and it does take commitment to continue going for acupuncture treatments, it is a safe, effective and gentle method of healing.