Acupuncture: Benefits, How it works, Risks

Acupuncture is a type of treatment in which very thin needles are inserted through a person’s skin at specific points on the body to various depths.


Acupuncture can help in the following ways:

  • It is safe if done correctly.
  • There are very few negative side effects.
  • It can be used in conjunction with other treatments to great effect.
  • Reduces pain.
  • It may benefit patients who are unable to take pain medications.

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Concept of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a technique that involves inserting very thin needles through your skin at strategic points on your body. Acupuncture is traditional Chinese medicine, used to treat pain. It is increasingly being used for overall well-being, including stress management.

Acupuncture is described in traditional Chinese medicine as a technique for balancing the flow of energy or life force known as chi or qi (chee) believed to flow through pathways (meridians) in your body. Acupuncture practitioners believe that by inserting needles into specific points along these meridians, your energy flow will be rebalanced.

Many Western practitioners, on the other hand, see acupuncture points as places to stimulate nerves, muscles, and connective tissue. Some people believe that this stimulation increases your body’s natural painkillers.

What is the sensation of acupuncture?

Acupuncture is performed with hair-thin needles. The majority of people report feeling only minor discomfort as the needle is inserted. The needle is inserted into a point that causes pressure or aches. During the treatment, the needles might be heated. Acupuncture has been reported to energize some people. Others claim to be at ease.

Incorrect needle placement can result in pain during treatment. To avoid infection, needles must be sterilized. That is the reason why it is very important to take treatment from an acupuncturist who is very professional and licensed. Acupuncture needles are regulated by the FDA in the same way that other medical devices are, through good manufacturing practices and single-use sterility standards.

Other forms of stimulation are sometimes used over the acupuncture points instead of needles, such as:

  • Warmth (moxibustion)
  • Pressure (acupressure)
  • Friction
  • Suction (cupping)
  • Electromagnetic energy impulses

Effect of Acupuncture on the body

Acupuncture has been shown in studies to be an effective treatment, either alone or in combination with conventional therapies, for the following conditions:

  • Dental pain after surgery
  • Addiction
  • Headaches
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Tennis elbow
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Myofascial pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Low back pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Asthma
  • Nausea after chemotherapy

Acupuncture therapy

Your acupuncturist will insert very thin needles into specific points on your body during an acupuncture treatment. The insertion is painless.

Acupuncturists each have their own style, which often combines elements of Eastern and Western medicine. Your practitioner may ask you about your symptoms, behaviors, and lifestyle to determine the best type of acupuncture treatment for you.

During the procedure

Acupuncture points can be found throughout the body. Sometimes the appropriate points are located far away from the source of your pain. Your acupuncture practitioner will inform you of the general location of the planned treatment and whether or not you will be required to remove any clothing. Gowns, towels, and sheets will be provided. For the treatment, you lie on a padded table and are subject to the following:

Inserting a needle- Acupuncture needles are inserted into your body at strategic points at varying depths. Because the needles are so thin, insertion is usually painless. People frequently do not perceive them to be inserted at all. It involves five to twenty needles. When a needle reaches the proper depth, you may experience a mild aching sensation.

Movement of needles – After needle placement, your practitioner may gently move or twirl the needles or apply heat or mild electrical pulses to the needles.

Needle extraction – The needles are usually left in place for 10 to 20 minutes while you lie still and relax. When the needles are removed, there is usually no discomfort.


Acupuncture’s benefits are sometimes difficult to quantify, but many people find it useful for controlling a variety of painful conditions.

Several studies, however, show that some types of simulated acupuncture work just as well as real acupuncture. Acupuncture also appears to work best in people who expect it to work.

Acupuncture has few side effects, so it’s worth a shot if you’re having trouble controlling your pain with more traditional methods. Search for good acupuncture specialists, tell them about your health history, understand the conditions and risk factors properly and continue following the doctor instructions.

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