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Acupuncture is an age-old healing technique. While traditional Chinese medicine explains acupuncture as the balancing of energy, known as chi, Western medicine views acupuncture as a method to stimulate nerves and muscles to boost circulation, healing, and endorphins. Whichever school of thought you align with; acupuncture may be a beneficial addition to certain treatment plans.
- August 17, 2021
- By Grand Itasca
What is Acupuncture
“Acupuncture is a medical treatment where thin, metallic needles are placed at various points in the body,” says Eric Warne, DC. The needles are placed in specific acupuncture points that fall along pathways called meridians.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, these meridians are energy pathways and when there is stagnation, there can be pain or disfunction in the body. By placing a needle in these areas, it allows, the chi, or energy, to move freely again.
“Looking at it from a more modern medical perspective,” says Dr. Warne, “when a needle is placed in the body, the muscle tends to wrestle around it, causing vasodilation, or an increase in blood flow. This can cause a release of the body’s natural painkillers and have an overall relaxing effect.”
What Conditions Can Acupuncture Treat
Acupuncture is most commonly used to treat pain. “As far as where, you point to a spot that hurts and more often than not, acupuncture can be used,” says Dr. Warne. It can also be used to help alleviate discomfort from a variety of conditions including headaches, muscle spasms, tennis elbow, stress, and more.
What to Expect at Your Appointment
“When we place the needles, they stay in for approximately 15-20 minutes. That is the recommended amount of time for the body to respond,” says Dr. Warne. Each appointment will last about 30 minutes and a typical course of treatment includes 4 visits. However, the number of visits will vary based on the condition and individual.
The needles used in acupuncture are so thin that most patients report feeling very little or no pain during the procedure. After the treatment, some people feel energized while others feel relaxed.
Risks and Side Effects
Acupuncture is a safe treatment option to incorporate into your overall care plan. However, anyone with an active infection, bleeding disorder, or taking blood thinners should generally avoid acupuncture. If you are pregnant, discuss acupuncture with your healthcare provider.
It is important to not skip conventional medicine for serious conditions, pain, or disease. Acupuncture is a safe compliment to most treatment plans.