What Is Acupuncture

Acupuncture derived from Latin, acus (needle) and punctura (to puncture). In modern times, Acupuncture is classified as a form of alternative medicine, though it is rapidly emerging as an independent therapeutic approach. It is commonly used for pain relief, though it is also used to treat a wide range of conditions. The majority of people seek out acupuncture for musculoskeletal problems, including low back pain shoulder stiffness, and knee pain, while others also undergo acupuncture for various clinical conditions like Asthma, Neuralgias, Migraine, Hair loss etc.

Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific acupuncture points along the ‘meridians’ of the body using thin needles. It can be associated with the application of heat, pressure, or laser light to these points. Traditionally, acupuncture is individualized and based on philosophy and intuition, but is supported by scientific research in modern times.

In modern acupuncture, a diagnostic consultation includes detailed case taking, taking the pulse on both arms and inspecting the tongue. Then the treatment sessions are designed according to the needs of the patient. A common treatment plan for a single complaint usually involves six to twelve treatments. A typical session entails lying still while approximately five to twenty needles are inserted; for the majority of cases, the needles will be left in place for ten to twenty minutes.

Acupuncturists generally practice acupuncture as an overall system of care, which includes using traditional diagnostic techniques, acupuncture needling, and other adjunctive treatments. Other forms of Complimentary treatments like Herbs, Homoeopathy, Naturopathy are also often used.

Traditional acupuncture involves needle insertion, moxibustion and cupping therapy. In traditional acupuncture, the acupuncturist decides which points to treat by observing and questioning the patient to make a diagnosis according to the tradition used. The four diagnostic methods are: inspection, auscultation and olfaction, inquiring, and palpation. Inspection focuses on the face and particularly on the tongue, including analysis of the tongue size, shape, tension, color and coating, and the absence or presence of teeth marks around the edge. Auscultation and olfaction involves listening for particular sounds (such as wheezing) and attending to body odor. Inquiring involves focusing on the "seven inquiries": chills and fever; perspiration; appetite, thirst and taste; defecation and urination; pain; sleep; and menses. Palpation is focusing on feeling the body for tender "A-shi" points and feeling the left and right radial pulses.

Needles

The most common mechanism of stimulation of acupuncture points employs penetration of the skin by thin metal needles, which are manipulated manually or the needle may be further stimulated by electrical stimulation (electroacupuncture). Acupuncture needles are typically made of stainless steel, making them flexible and preventing them from rusting or breaking. Needles are usually disposed of after each use to prevent contamination.

Needling technique
Insertion

The skin is sterilized and needles are inserted, frequently with a plastic guide tube. Needles may be manipulated in various ways, including spinning, flicking, or moving up and down relative to the skin. Since most pain is felt in the superficial layers of the skin, a quick insertion of the needle is recommended. Often the needles are stimulated by hand in order to cause a dull, localized, aching sensation that is called ‘de qi’, as well as "needle grasp," a tugging feeling felt by the acupuncturist and generated by a mechanical interaction between the needle and skin. Acupuncture can be painful in the hands of an untrained acupuncturist. The skill level of the acupuncturist may influence how painful the needle insertion is, and a sufficiently skilled practitioner may be able to insert the needles without causing any pain.

Related practices
  • Acupressure uses physical pressure applied to acu-points by the hand or elbow, or with various devices.
  • Moxibustion, the burning of cone-shaped preparations of moxa (made from dried herbs) on or near the skin, moxibustion is used for treating chronic diseases.
  • Cupping Therapy is a local suction created on the skin to mobilizes blood flow
  • Electro Acupuncture is a form of acupuncture in which acupuncture needles are attached to a device that generates continuous electric pulses
  • Acupuncture point injection is the injection of various substances into acupoints.
  • Auriculo Therapy commonly known as ear acupuncture, auricular acupuncture, or auriculoacupuncture involves inserting needles to stimulate points on the ear.
  • Scalp acupuncture, is based on reflexological considerations regarding the scalp.
  • Cosmetic acupuncture is the use of acupuncture in an attempt to reduce wrinkles on the face.
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