What is acupuncture and how does it work?

Acupuncture is a branch of Chinese Medicine over 3,000 years old. It involves inserting fine needles into various points in the body to stimulate the body’s energy system. The energy or qi (pronounced chee) is channeled through the body by a collection of meridians. If energy cannot flow through the meridian, a blockage of qi occurs. It is presumed that this blockage is responsible for disease. Through acupuncture, the body is encouraged to promote its own natural healing. The scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the body. Research has revealed the needles cause measurable physiological responses, including the release of endorphins. These chemicals can decrease pain and trigger a cascade of chemical reactions that influence the body’s own regulating mechanisms.

What types of conditions can be treated?

There are a variety of conditions which benefit from acupuncture. This office has successfully treated neck, back and knee pain, sciatica, ligament strain, tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, headaches, TMJ disorder, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, peripheral neuropathy, neuralgia, chemo-induced neuropathy. Almost any painful condition may be treated, provided there are no medical contraindications. Other non-pain problems such as allergies, asthma, dry eyes, dry mouth, tinnitus, nausea, irritable bowel, hot flashes, infertility, anxiety, insomnia and post-stroke weakness have been successfully treated in this office. This is not a complete list of conditions, but some of the more commonly treated.

Does acupuncture really work?

The National Institutes of Health has acknowledged that acupuncture is a viable option for knee pain due to osteoarthritis, pain following dental surgery, nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy. The World Health Organization recognizes the use of acupuncture for

  • Neck, back and joint pain
  • Headaches, peripheral neuropathy
  • Osteoarthritis, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow
  • Gastritis, constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome
  • Allergies, asthma, sinusitis and other respiratory problems
  • Urinary, menstrual and reproductive problems

Acupuncture is widely practiced in Europe, mainly by physicians. Veterinary acupuncture is used successfully on horses, cats and dogs. When an animal is limping prior to treatment and afterward is moving normal, this implies there is no placebo effect. The animals do not understand the process but still benefit.