What is Acupuncture
Acupuncture is an ancient form of Chinese medicine involving the insertion of extremely thin and solid acupuncture needles into the skin at specific points on the body to achieve a therapeutic effect. No drug is injected. The stimulation of the needles alone create the beneficial effects of acupuncture. Acupuncture is used to encourage natural healing, reduce or relieve pain and improve function of affected areas of the body. It is safe and effective.
Acupuncture needles are solid and usually stainless steel. The needles are very fine, flexible and rounded but sharp at the tip. They are ‘atraumatic’, meaning that they do not have a cutting edge like a typical injection needle, which slices through tissue. Their design allows acupuncture needles to slide smoothly through tissues and makes them unlikely to cause bleeding or cause damage to underlying structures. Acupuncture points (also referred to as ‘acupoints’) are located by identifying specific anatomical landmarks on the body. The needles are left in place for 10-30 minutes, and the practitioner may manipulate the needles to strengthen or reduce stimulation.
Other related techniques include Electro-acupuncture where needles are electrically stimulated by attaching them to a TENS machine using wires with small clips on the ends. Low frequency stimulation (2-4 Hz) results in a slow onset of pain relief that outlasts the treatment for hours to days and is often cumulative by repeating treatments. High frequency stimulation (80-200 Hz) results in a pain-blocking effect that is fast in onset but does not usually outlast the stimulation.
How does Acupuncture work?
The five key systemic effects that acupuncture has on the body include
3. Release and relax tight and short muscles
4. Emotional balancing
5. Autonomic Healing
1. Analgesic effect
Inserting the needle into the skin and muscle stimulates nerve fibers to send messages along the nervous system to release endorphins and to block pain messages from going to the brain. This produces an analgesic effect, inhibiting pain signals along the spinal cord.
2. Anti-inflammatory effect
It has been proven that the stimulation of inserting needles into the skin and muscles release the neurotransmitter, Adenosine. Adenosine is the body’s natural anti-inflammatory hormone and reduces effects like swelling, tenderness, stiffness and pain that are the results of inflammation.
3. Relax tight muscles
IMS or Intramuscular Stimulation is the needling of muscle tissue. It works three ways.
First, the needle stimulates a stretch receptor in the muscle producing a reflex relaxation (lengthening).
Second, the needle imitates a small injury that draws blood to the injured area. This initiates the natural healing process of the muscle.
Third, the treatment creates an electrical potential in the muscle to make the nerves function normally again.
IMS is very effective in releasing short muscles, thereby reducing pain from the muscle pull. When competently performed, IMS has a remarkable success rate to treat painful signs and symptoms, even in chronic back pain.
4. Emotional imbalance
Chronic pain is seen as an emotional condition as well as a physical sensation. In conjunction with this, chronic pain together with depression and anxiety all function on the same brain pathways and neurotransmitters like, Serotonin and Norepinephrine. Because they are so closely related it is believed that by stimulating the pain pathways through acupuncture there is an integrated affect on the whole system, bringing emotional balance along with pain relief.
5. Autonomic Healing
There is a part in the brain called the Pituitary-hypothalamic complex. This regulates hormones, blood sugar, blood pressure as well as temperature in the body. Acupuncture has been proven to simulate this complex to release specific endorphins and regulatory hormones which can cause changes and regulation that can trigger the body’s autonomic healing response.
What can Acupuncture help me with?
- Any muscle or joint pain. Like:
- low back pain, neck pain, knee pain or shoulder pain
- Head aches
- Muscle spasm, tightness or shortening
- Arthritic pain, tendinitis
- Neural pain
- Pregnancy related nausea or vomiting
- Bells Palsy
- Facial pain
- Chronic Pain