Common Questions About Acupuncture
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is one of the modalities of Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture consists of the insertion of fine needles into the body at specific points shown to be effective in the treatment of health problems. These points have been mapped by the Chinese over a period of 2,000 years, and there are more than 1,000 known acupoints. In the past three decades, electromagnetic research has confirmed the existence and location of these points.
What Problems Can be Treated with Acupuncture?
The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture’s effectiveness for over 70 common disorders.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Preclinical studies have documented acupuncture’s effects, but they have not been able to fully explain how acupuncture works within the framework of the Western system of medicine. However, the scientific community continues to shed new light on the mechanism and efficacy of acupuncture. It is proposed that acupuncture produces its effects through regulating the nervous system, thus aiding the activity of pain-killing biochemicals such as endorphins and immune system cells at specific sites in the body. In addition, studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neuro-hormones and, thus, affecting the parts of the central nervous system related to sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes that regulate a person’s blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature.
Acupuncture is a key component of Eastern Medicine, where the body is seen as a delicate balance of two opposing and inseparable forces: yin and yang. Yin represents the cold, slow, or passive principle; yang represents the hot, excited, or active principle. Health is achieved by maintaining the body in a “balanced state” and that disease is due to an internal imbalance of yin and yang. This imbalance leads to blockage in the flow of qi (vital energy) along pathways known as meridians. Acupuncture promotes and reestablishes the free flow of qi. What is Qi?
Is Acupuncture Safe?
Acupuncture is safe and without any serious side effects, one of the reasons for its acceptance. The stainless steel needles themselves are pre-sterilized, and they are disposed of after each treatment.
Acupuncture has been used by millions of Americans and is recognized by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA regulates acupuncture needles as medical devices, and rates them in the category of “safe and effective.” The National Institutes of Health finished a two and one-half year study of acupuncture, electrical acupuncture and micro-current therapies, and published their Acupuncture Consensus Statement in November, 1997.
The Consensus Statement from the NIH states that, “While it is often thought that there is substantial research evidence to support conventional medical practices; this is frequently not the case. This does not mean that these treatments are ineffective. The data in support of acupuncture are as strong as those for many accepted Western medical therapies. One of the advantages of acupuncture is that the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted medical procedures used for the same conditions.”
Will Acupuncture fix my problem immediately?
Acupuncture is not a miracle cure, nor a “quick fix.” Remember that acupuncture is addressing the underlying cause of a problem rather than fixing a symptom, therefore it takes time to have an effect. You may experience immediate results, especially if the problem is not too chronic, but you may not notice any progress until later in the course of treatment.
How Many Treatments Will I Need?
That depends on the duration, severity, and nature of your complaint. You may need only a single treatment for an acute condition. A series of 6-10 treatments may resolve many chronic problems. Some degenerative conditions may require many treatments over time. To help reduce the number of treatments Dr. Lex may suggest dietary modifications, specific exercise regimens, relaxation techniques, massage, and/or Chinese herbal medicines, all of which may help to increase the efficacy of acupuncture.
Is There Anything I Need to do While Receiving Treatment?
What Can I Expect After Treatment?
Patients often experience dramatic results in the first treatment. Some patients experience an immediate total or partial relief of their pain and other symptoms. This relief may last or some pain may return. In a few cases, there may be no immediate relief only to notice the pain diminish over the next couple of days. Generally, you should expect to feel better.