Acupuncture 101

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Acupuncture is one of many therapeutic modalities used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat pain, and dysfunction.

Juliette Woodruff

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an ancient healing system, going back nearly five thousand years. The Chinese philosophy in acupuncture is based on the relationship with nature, our emotions, and our bodies, and having an integrative relationship between them as a whole. It looks at different aspects of our lives such as, environment, diet, lifestyle, and emotional state. These factors all influence the body’s ability to keep in harmony creating a well-balanced system.

It is believed that if one or more of our organs are stressed or are not functioning properly, then the whole body will suffer. In acupuncture theory energy (“qi” pronounced chi) flows throughout the body through channels called collaterals, and meridians. These channels reflect specific points either on or just below the skin surface. In TCM theory, acupuncture promotes the flow of energy (qi) when deficient, and reduces energy when there is too much, bringing balance back to the body. Once a meridian is chosen, disposable sterile needles are inserted into the appropriate points, creating balance in the body.

Western scientific research has proposed mechanisms for the effect of acupuncture on pain relief. It has been suggested that acupuncture may work on the principles of the gate control theory of pain (Melzack & Wall 1965). This theory believes that one type of sensory input i.e. low back pain could be inhibited in the central nervous system by another type of sensory input i.e. needling. There is also current evidence that acupuncture stimulates the production of biochemicals in the body (endorphins, serotonin, and acetylcholine) within the central nervous system, enhancing analgesia effect. (Chu et al., 1979; Anderson, 1993; Stux & Pmoeranz, 1998)

What conditions benefit from acupuncture?

Acupuncture is used to treat a variety of conditions, at different stages of healing to help relieve pain, and discomfort. Acupuncture is an effective modality for alleviating pain.

There is current scientific evidence to show that acupuncture is effective in the following conditions:

  • low back pain
  • dental pain
  • neck pain
  • fibromyalgia
  • osteoarthritis
  • post-operative treatment
  • chemotherapy control of nausea and vomiting
  • shoulder pain
  • wrist & hand pain
  • facial pain
  • headaches

This service pro­vides gen­eral infor­ma­tion and dis­cus­sion about therapy, health and related sub­jects. It is not meant to replace advice and/or treatment from your health care professional.