Healthy Living

Acupuncture: All You Need to Know

If you have a bleeding illness like hemophilia or are under anticoagulant medication, talk to your general practitioner before having acupuncture. 

Acupuncture

Acupuncture: All You Need to Know

Key Takeaways

  • How acupuncture works
  • Uses of acupuncture
  • How acupuncture is performed
  • How the insertion is performed
  • Safety and regulation

Acupuncture is a form of treatment derived from antique Chinese medicine. Fine prickles or needles are gently inserted at specific parts of the body for preventive or therapeutic purposes.

Acupuncture

How acupuncture works

Medical acupuncture involves the stimulation of sensory nerves underneath the skin and in all body muscles. This triggers the body to produce natural substances like pain-relieving endorphins. It is likely that the released constituents are responsible for the valuable effects experienced with medical acupuncture.

A series of acupuncture treatments often create a long-lasting pain relief than a single dosage. Conventional acupuncture is based on a theory which states that energy flows through certain body channels referred to as meridians. This force is called Qi; practitioners suggest that inefficient flow of Qi across the body results in an illness.

Uses of acupuncture

Acupuncturists use acupuncture to cure several health conditions. Nevertheless, acupuncture is not always based on comprehensive scientific evidence. Your doctor will recommend acupuncture treatment options for:

• Migraines
• Persistent tension-tension type headaches
• Chronic lower back pain

In addition, acupuncture is utilized in the treatment of musculoskeletal and pain disorders, including neck, postoperative, joint, and dental pain. However, in numerous conditions where acupuncture treatments are used, there is less quality evidence to make any clear conclusions regarding its safety and effectiveness.

How acupuncture is carried out

An initial acupuncture treatment often lasts 30-40 minutes and entails the assessment of the patient’s general health, physical examination, and medical history, followed by gentle insertion of the acupuncture prickles.

How the insertion is performed

The needles or pickles are inserted into certain sites of the body, which doctors describe as acupuncture points. During each session, you will be required to lie down or sit. Your doctor might also suggest that you remove some of your clothes so that the practitioner can access specific parts of the body. The needles are usually fine and a few centimeters long. They must be pre-sterilized, single-use needles which are disposed of immediately after use.

Acupuncturists choose certain points to insert the needles according to your condition. Up to twelve points might be used during a distinctive session, sometimes even more, depending on the severity of your symptoms. The needles can be placed just below the skin, or deeper inside the muscle tissue. Once the insertion is completed, the needles may be allowed to rest for 30 minutes before being removed. It’s more likely that you’ll experience a tingling feeling or a mild headache when the pickles are inserted but you won’t encounter any pain. If you do feel pain, inform your practitioner right away.

Under some circumstances, your doctor might rotate the needles or try stimulating them with an electric current referred to as electro-acupuncture.

Safety and regulation

There is no statutory regulation for acupuncture in England, but several non-medical acupuncturists have an obligation to register with the local authorities.

If you’re planning to have acupuncture, ensure that your acupuncturist is either a physiotherapist nurse, health professional or a registered member of a national acupuncture organisation. When it’s performed by a professional doctor, acupuncture is usually very safe. However, some people encounter mild, acute side effects, including:

• Feeling sick
• Severe pain where the needles pierce the skin
• Worsening of existing symptoms
• Bruising or bleeding where the pickles puncture the skin
Dizziness or faintness
• Drowsiness or feeling sick

If you have a bleeding illness like hemophilia or are under anticoagulant medication, talk to your general practitioner before having acupuncture.