Understanding How Acupuncture Works

Understanding How Acupuncture Works

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medicine technique using needles that has been gaining support in evidence-based research in the last few years.

At Coastal Pain Medicine in Pompano Beach, Florida, Dr. Patrick Brennan offers it as a treatment option for conditions ranging from headaches to musculoskeletal pain, helping to improve patient health and well-being. 

When considering whether this treatment is for you, it helps to understand a bit about how acupuncture works.

Understanding acupuncture 

How acupuncture works depends on who you ask. Ideas about the body and healing differ between traditional Chinese medical specialists and Western medicine physicians.

Traditional Chinese medicine

In traditional Chinese medicine, health results from the harmonious balance of the “yin” and “yang” aspects of the life force known as “qi” (pronounced “chi”). Illness is said to occur when the forces aren’t balanced properly.

Qi flows through 14 major meridians, or pathways, in the human body, with the energy flows accessible through 350 separate acupuncture points. Inserting very thin needles into these points in the proper combinations brings the energy flow back into proper balance.

The needles stimulate the body’s systems to:

Western medicine and research

According to Western medicine, placing small, thin needles into specific points on the body stimulates a number of biochemical reactions. This includes increasing nerve activity and releasing hormones and other chemicals that affect your body’s internal regulation system, specifically reducing pain and inflammation.

With reduced pain and inflammation, you experience increased energy and regulatory balance, which boosts your natural healing abilities. 

Over the course of your treatments, which can range from one to eight sessions, depending on the source of your problem and its severity, the acupuncturist restores both your physical and emotional well-being.

What does the research say? Well, it’s kind of a mixed bag. 

Research suggests acupuncture relieves pain, and while it is used for a variety of other complaints, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) indicates there’s limited evidence for its effectiveness in areas other than pain.

Which conditions does acupuncture treat?

According to the NCCIH, acupuncture has been proven to help in cases of:

Note that all these conditions are pain-related. The agency lists other conditions that may benefit from acupuncture, but none of them have been scientifically proven at this time.

The World Health Organization also lists a number of conditions other than pain problems where it feels acupuncture has been proven effective, including:

If you’re interested in learning more about acupuncture and if it’s a good treatment for you, contact us today to set up a consultation.

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