From a Western understanding, Acupuncture involves inserting fine needles at certain points on the body’s surface in order to stimulate the nervous system to release the body’s own natural chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals may either change the experience of pain, or may trigger the release of other chemicals that can influence the body’s own internal regulating system and may stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities. From an Eastern point of view, symptoms can be due to either blocked Qi, stagnation of Qi/blood/phlegm, excess or deficiency problems, or external attacks such as wind, cold, or heat. Healing can take place by needling specific acupuncture points on the body to address these issues.
Medical Acupuncture is done by a physician. Physicians have knowledge of physiological functions of the body in both health and in illness. Acupuncture can be used as a support or adjunct to other medical treatments, or can be used alone depending on the patient’s problem. It is often used for various acute and chronic pain problems ( arthritis, tendonitis, joint pains, pelvic pain, musculoskeletal pain), maintenance of good health, chronic fatigue, functional bowel disorders, headaches, myofascial related problems, neuropathies (such as Bell’s Palsy, Trigeminal Neuralgia), radiculopathies (cervical or lumbar spinal stenosis),carpal tunnel syndrome, respiratory problems (including sinus and allergy conditions), chronic gastrointestinal problems (such as chronic pain or Irritable Bowel Syndrome), urinary problems such as incontinence and interstitial cystitis), smoking cessation, and many other conditions. In addition to acupuncture, the use of certain herbs and supplements can be helpful for inflammatory and pain conditions.
Acupuncture can be extremely relaxing and is often used for psychological issues such as anxiety, stress and insomnia. Other modalities that can also be helpful for these issues include aromatherapy (which can effect the area of the brain (limbic system) involved in mood and memory, as well as certain herbs and supplements.
Acupuncture can stimulate the body’s neuromodulatory and regulatory abilities to bring the body back toward homeostasis. Physical problems related to stress and tension can also be approached with acupuncture as well as with herbs, supplements and some essential oils.
If you would like more information on Medical Acupuncture, you may wish to visit the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture site at www.medicalacupuncture.org.