Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used medical procedures in the world. Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medical technique. It is also called Oriental medicine. Acupuncture scientific name is paradigm. Each meridian corresponds to one organ, or group of organs, that governs particular bodily functions. Acupuncture is thought to restore health by removing energy imbalances and blockages in the body. Acupuncture is the practice of inserting thin needles into specific body points to improve health and well-being.
Acupuncture originated in China more than 2,000 years ago, making it one of the oldest and most commonly used medical procedures in the world. It is widely used in both private and NHS settings. Acupuncture is a family of procedures involving stimulation of anatomical locations on or in the skin by a variety of techniques. Traditional Chinese medicine is not based on knowledge of modern physiology, biochemistry, nutrition, anatomy, or any of the known mechanisms of healing. Acupuncture's record of success has stimulated a number of research projects investigating its mechanisms as well as its efficacy. It's commonly used to treat pain, relieve common ailments and promote general health. There is a growing body of research evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture, especially to treat nausea (particularly postoperative), dental problems and low back pain. Acupuncture has been shown to induce reproducible patterns of neural activity in a wide variety of brainstem, midbrain and cerebral cortical structures.There is sufficient evidence, however, of acupuncture's value to expand its use into conventional medicine and to encourage further studies of its physiology and clinical value.
Acupuncturists believe it regulates the flow of ‘vital energy', known as ‘Qi' (pronounced ‘chee'). The most frequently offered defense of acupuncture by its defenders commits the pragmatic fallacy. The effects of acupuncture are complex. Acupuncture needles are metallic, solid, and hair-thin. People experience acupuncture differently, but most feel no or minimal pain as the needles are inserted. Some people are energized by treatment, while others feel relaxed. Improper needle placement, movement of the patient, or a defect in the needle can cause soreness and pain during treatment. This is why it is important to seek treatment from a qualified acupuncture practitioner.
Acupuncture is also thought to decrease pain by increasing the release of chemicals that block pain, called endorphins. Many acu-points are near nerves. When stimulated, these nerves cause a dull ache or feeling of fullness in the muscle. The stimulated muscle sends a message to the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), causing the release of endorphins (morphine-like chemicals produced in our own bodies during times of pain or stress). Endorphins, along with other neurotransmitters (body chemicals that modify nerve impulses), block the message of pain from being delivered up to the brain. Some of the biological effects of acupuncture have also been observed when sham acupuncture points are stimulated, highlighting the importance of defining appropriate control groups in assessing biological changes purported to be due to acupuncture.
Acupuncture is one of the CAM therapies that are more commonly covered by insurance. Acupuncture points are thought to correspond to physiological and anatomical features such as peripheral nerve junctions, and diagnosis is made in purely conventional terms. There are several different approaches to acupuncture. Among the most common in the United States today Acupuncture points employs penetration of the skin by thin, solid, metallic needles, which are manipulated manually or by electrical stimulation. The most common serious injury reported from the needles of acupuncture has been accidental puncture of the lung. The most common infection reported from acupuncture treatments is viral hepatitis, a potentially serious infection of the liver. Other side effects include bacterial infections locally at the site of needle insertion in the skin and elsewhere in the body. Generally, side effects seem to relate to poor hygiene and training of the acupuncturist.
Acupuncture as a therapeutic intervention is widely practiced in the United States. There have been many studies of its potential usefulness. However, many of these studies provide equivocal results because of design, sample size, and other factors. The issue is further complicated by inherent difficulties in the use of appropriate controls, such as placebo and sham acupuncture groups. There are other situations such as addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma where acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment or an acceptable alternative or be included in a comprehensive management program.
By Juliet Cohen