You may have heard of people swearing by acupuncture as a miracle treatment for their joint or muscle pain. But what exactly does acupuncture consist of? What are the benefits? What are the risks? Below, we’ll help you understand acupuncture and whether it is right for you.
What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese healing method that involves inserting hair-thin needles into specific “acupoints” of the body. These points are found throughout the body, including on the back, arms, face, and ears. The minimally invasive procedure has been in practice for thousands of years and has been shown to have many health benefits. Acupuncturists, the certified specialists that handle acupuncture, sometimes incorporate Western medicine into their practice to target.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Acupuncturists typically insert 3-15 needles per session, averaging between 20-60 minutes. The needles target points of the body that cause illnesses and pain. The goal is to rebalance the body’s energy, or “qi,” and release natural chemicals, like endorphins, to relieve pain. Once qi is balanced, the patient may feel happier and more harmonious.
The Benefits of Acupuncture
One of the most common reasons people seek acupuncture is to relieve joint and muscle pain. However, acupuncture has many other studied health benefits, including:
- Dental pain
- Menstrual pain
- Headaches and migraines
- Respiratory disorders and allergies
- Nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy
Is Acupuncture Safe?
Acupuncture is generally safe for most people when performed by a certified acupuncturist. It also has relatively few side effects. Bruising and bleeding from the needles can occur, but that generally goes away. There can be more serious side effects when acupuncture is performed by an unqualified practitioner, including –
- Organ failure due to needle penetration
- Infection from an unsterile needle
- Broken needles, which may take surgery to remove.
If you suffer from a bleeding disorder, have a pacemaker, or are pregnant, be sure to notify your acupuncturist, as you may be more at risk for complications.
Is Acupuncture Right for You?
If you want to know if acupuncture is for you, we suggest speaking with your doctor. Keep in mind that acupuncture isn’t a cure-all procedure; rather, it can play a role in treating the symptoms of your condition!
Have you tried acupuncture? Share your experience with us in the comments below.