Understanding The Basics Of AcupunctureFriday, June 16th, 2017
Acupuncture is a holistic form of traditional Chinese medicine focused on balancing the body’s energy to promote healing and improve functioning. Developed more than 2,500 years ago, this practice involves placing thin needles at precise points in the body to help prevent and treat disease. The Chinese believe acupuncture modifies the flow of energy, or chi, throughout the body along pathways called meridians.
The modern scientific explanation is that acupuncture works by stimulating the nervous system to release chemicals in the spinal cord, muscles, and brain. Research has demonstrated the needles influence an amino acid called adenosine, which becomes active in the skin after an injury. These stimulated chemicals may change the way the brain experiences pain, or serve to affects the body’s internal regulation system to help heal itself. Before getting acupuncture, it is important to understand what this therapy treats, what to expect at your first session, and what to do after your treatment.
What is acupuncture used to treat?
Over the centuries, acupuncture has been used to treat a wide variety of ailments, from emotional disorders like anxiety and depression to digestive complaints. It has even been shown to significantly reduce nausea in chemotherapy patients. Acupuncture is beneficial for treating neurological issues like Parkinson’s disease and migraines, and degenerative diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. This practice has even been proven effective as a rehabilitation strategy for victims of stroke.
Acupuncture can be used to relieve respiratory conditions, such as asthma and sinusitis, gynecologic disorders, and infertility. This therapy is also being used to decrease the symptoms of addiction. Primarily in the West, acupuncture has been used to treat pain in general. Research in the U.S. has shown acupuncture to help relieve chronic lower back pain, fibromyalgia, dental pain, myofascial pain, and pain from osteoarthritis.
It is important to know that all patients being treated for anything but the following must have seen their medical doctor or dentist within one year for their main complaint OR have seen their chiropractor within 6 months for the main complaint:
- Alcohol detox
- Smoking cessation
- Weight loss
- Drug detox
- Chronic pain
Patients being treated for any other condition as their main complaint must verify that they have seen their physician, dentist, or chiropractor within 6 months.
What to expect from your first acupuncture appointment
Although it may seem strange, your first visit with a licensed acupuncturist should include a complete and comprehensive health history assessment. Remember, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture addresses the flow of energy in the body. Therefore, understanding whole-body interaction is key to tailoring the process to your specific needs. Your practitioner may ask questions about your bowel habits and diet, take your pulse, and may even ask to examine your tongue. Even if you think the questions have nothing to do with your primary complaint, it is important to answer honestly.
After your consultation, needles will be placed in very specific acupuncture points. Though some may be frightened at the idea of inserting needles into the body, the process is rarely painful. You may feel a brief sting or a little pressure, but most report that they can’t even feel the needle insertions.
The area may tingle, itch, or become numb. It is also not uncommon to feel a deep ache for a small period of time. Providers see these sensations as a sign that the chi, or energy flow, has been successfully accessed. The needles may then be gently manipulated, and some practitioners may use heat or electricity to further stimulate the energy flow. The needles are left in place for five to twenty minutes, or in some cases up to an hour, and are then removed.
What to do after the acupuncture treatment
Following the acupuncture treatment, your practitioner may give suggestions for home care or suggest supplemental Chinese herbs to further facilitate energy balance. Depending on the condition being treated and range of symptoms, you may only require two to four treatments. For chronic or more serious cases, it is not uncommon to undergo twelve or more treatments over the course of several weeks.
If you would like to experience the benefits of acupuncture, contact the professionals at Back to Basics Massage Studio in Amarillo, Texas today. We offer many services, including acupuncture administered by our licensed acupuncturist and Swedish massage. Give us a call at (806) 322-3706 or Contact Us by email to learn more about how we can help you. You can also Book An Appointment online or visit us in person at 3714 Olsen Blvd in Amarillo.