All You Need To Know About Acupuncture

What is acupuncture?

Dating back approximately 3000 years, acupuncture is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine and is used to alleviate patients of pain, improve the body’s functioning and promote self-healing. The practice involves inserting fine, sterile, filiform needles into the skin’s surface at specific points on the body, commonly referred to as “acupoints”.

The alternative medicine and effective chiropractic and physiotherapy treatment, is based on the idea of correcting energy imbalances in the body, commonly referred to as ‘Qi’ (pronounced chi). When the flow of energy is blocked, imbalances can occur and therefore lead to pain, discomfort, decreased functioning and illness. The insertion of the fine needles aims to release blocked Qi, by stimulating the body’s natural healing response.

In fact, multiple studies have been conducted on humans and animals revealed that acupuncture actually causes many biological responses. Such responses may happen locally at the site of the needle’s insertion, or from a distance whereby the sensory neurons within the central nervous system are stimulated. This stimulation is believed to release endorphins and natural opioids, both chemicals in the body which help relieve pain, make us feel good and promote sleep. While such a response is proven to help ease all sorts of pain, research also suggests that the acupuncture method is also great to help manage anxiety and depression, improve sleep and ease menstrual cramps just to name a few. However, it is also believed acupuncture is useful for asthma sufferers and can benefit post-operative and chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting.

What to expect from acupuncture treatment?

At Spinal and Sports Care, our knowledgeable and trained chiropractors and physiotherapists will sometimes recommend acupuncture therapy to treat pain and illnesses. If acupuncture is recommended as an ideal treatment for you, there are a few things you may anticipate from your first acupuncture appointment.

Before the initial treatment begins, the performing acupuncturist will generally interview you to determine the specific acupuncture style for you. These questions will be based on your symptoms, behaviour and lifestyle. It is also not uncommon for the practitioner to examine the areas of your body which are experiencing pain, the shape, colour and coating of your tongue, the colour of your face and your pulse. Because of this process, you should expect that your first acupuncture appointment is quite lengthy, lasting roughly 60 minutes. Following treatments are generally much shorter, lasting around half an hour. The number of acupuncture treatments required will also greatly depend on your condition and its severity. Most individuals are advised to undertake 1-2 treatments per week, and a total of 6-8 treatments for maximum results.

During the procedure, the practitioner will advise the planned site and acupuncture points for the treatment. It is not uncommon that this site will be different to the area where the symptoms and pain are present. For example, if you’re suffering from digestive issues, anaemia, immune deficiencies, fatigue and other numerous diseases, the acupuncture point may be the stomach channel, based on the energy flow and transportation of Qi. This point is located on the front of the leg, just below the knee. Furthermore, if you’re seeking treatment to regulate menstruation, alleviate chest pain or headaches, treat eye disorders or reduce blood pressure, the acupuncturist may trigger the Liver Channel also referred to as LV3 or Taichong, which is located on the top of the foot between the first and second toes.

Once the practitioner has advised the area of treatment, you will be provided with a gown, towel or sheet if necessary and lie on a padded bed, like those uses for massages. The first part of the treatment is the insertion of the needles. Most treatments use between 5-20 needles, but this can vary accordingly. These needles are placed at the specific and strategic points on the body, relative to the acupoints and channels of the body the practitioner is targeting.

A common worry of many first time patients is the pain associated with the needle insertion, however, this usually causes minimal discomfort. However, patients may experience a delicate aching sensation once the needles have been inserted to the optimal depth. The acupuncturist will then begin to gently manipulate the needles, stimulating the flow of Qi. This may take the form of gently moving the needles once they have been placed. Alternatively, needle manipulation may use the application of heat or a mild electrical current through the needles where a slight pulsating, yet soothing sensation may be experienced. These methods are practised to further stimulate the flow of energy throughout the body.

For most treatments, the needles will remain in place for approximately 10-20 minutes while the patient relaxes and remains still. The needles will then be gently removed and no discomfort should be felt. Every individual responds to the acupuncture treatment differently. While some feel relaxed, and others feel energised, some individuals also experience tiredness and low energy immediately after treatment. If this occurs, it is important to rest to help let your body heal and remain hydrated. Other side effects that may occur is small bruising or bleeding where the needles were inserted, but this does not cause for concern.

Spinal and Sports care is committed to providing our patients with diverse chiropractic and physiotherapy treatments Castle Hill, Parramatta and Wetherill Park to help alleviate their discomfort, pain and manage any illnesses. For more information on how acupuncture can benefit your condition, do not hesitate to contact our experienced chiropractors and physiotherapists at  Wetherill Park, Parramatta and Castle Hill by visiting your local clinic, booking online or calling (02) 9683 1110 to schedule an appointment.