Acupuncture is a traditional form of Eastern medicine dating back more than 2,500 years. It involves the insertion of tiny, single-use needles into specific points on the body to relieve pain and other symptoms.
Acupuncture works by restoring the body’s ideal flow of energy or “chi". Acupuncture also works by stimulating nerves that release endorphins to increase feelings of wellness and reduce pain. Acupuncture is used alone or as a complementary treatment to traditional Western medicine.
Several large-scale clinical studies have shown acupuncture to be effective in treating many physical and emotional conditions including:
For many people, acupuncture not only provides relief from acute and chronic pain, but it also offers an overall sense of relaxation and well-being that increases with ongoing treatment.
Acupuncture is performed with sterile, metallic, solid, and hair-thin needles. There is little to no pain associated with the insertion of the needles and patients report different sensations associated with acupuncture during the treatment. If the placement of the acupuncture needle is too close to certain anatomical structures there can be soreness but if this occurs (it's rare but it does happen) you simply notify your practitioner of the discomfort and the location will be adjusted to make sure you're comfortable before the next insertion begins. Once the needles are all inserted you should be completely comfortable.
After your needles have been inserted, we leave you to rest for a bit. We may soften the lights and play soft music to help you relax. After anywhere from 20-30 minutes, we return to remove the needles, and your treatment is complete.
Researchers have identified several processes in the body that have demonstrated acupuncture's effects, primarily on pain. In general, acupuncture points are believed to stimulate the central nervous system, which, in turn, releases chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals either alter the experience of pain or release other chemicals that influence the body's self-regulating systems. Attention has been focused on the following theories to further explain how acupuncture affects the body:
Conduction of electromagnetic signals.
- Evidence suggests that acupuncture points are strategic conductors of electromagnetic signals. Stimulating these points enables electromagnetic signals to be relayed at greater-than-normal rates. These signals may start the flow of pain-killing biochemicals, such as endorphins, or release immune system cells to specific body sites.
Activation of the body's natural opioid system.
- Considerable research supports the claim that acupuncture releases opioids, synthetic or naturally occurring chemicals in the brain that may reduce pain or induce sleep. These chemicals may explain acupuncture's pain-relieving effects.
Stimulation of the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland.
- Joined at the base of the brain, the hypothalamus and pituitary glands are responsible for many body functions. The hypothalamus activates and controls part of the nervous system, the endocrine processes, and many bodily functions, such as sleep, regulation of temperature, and appetite. The pituitary gland supplies some of the body's needed hormones. Stimulation of these glands can result in a broad spectrum of effects on various body systems.
Change in the secretion of neurotransmitters and neurohormones.
- Studies suggest that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry in a positive way. This is accomplished by changing the release of neurotransmitters (biochemical substances that stimulate or inhibit nerve impulses) and neurohormones (naturally occurring chemical substances that can change the structure or function, or impact the activity of, a body organ).
*Individual results will vary.
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