Acupuncture is one of the world’s oldest and most commonly used alternative medicines. It originated from traditional Chinese medicine 3,000 years ago. Practitioners of acupuncture stimulate nerve endings on your body by inserting thin needles in specific points on your skin. It is common knowledge that acupuncture relieves many health conditions, but how does is work?
How does acupuncture work?
The modern practice of acupuncture has changed considerably since it was first introduced in China. The acupuncture treatments carried out in hospitals and other health care facilities in the West today are not based on the same principles that were established in ancient Eastern texts as they were not based in science and medicine.
Modern research says that when each needle is inserted into the skin, it produces a tiny injury. The injury is slight enough to cause little to no discomfort, while being enough to cause the body to respond. The response is a stimulation of the immune system. This promotes circulation to the area, helps heal wounds and pain modulation.
During acupuncture treatment, between 5 and 20 needles are typically used. The acupuncturist may move, twirl, heat, or apply electric pulses to the needles, depending on your symptoms. The needles remain in the skin for up to 20 minutes while the patient lies still. After this period the acupuncturist will painlessly remove them.
What does acupuncture do?
There’s a reason that acupuncture has been around for so long. As well as alleviating symptoms of various physical conditions, acupuncture treatment has been proven to provide:
- More restful sleep
- Higher energy
- Increased mental clarity
- Better digestion
- Lower stress levels and reduced anxiety
- Reduced allergies
- Improved fertility
- Fewer headaches
The blissful feeling that many individuals report after an acupuncture session is referred to as ‘acu land.’ Once this initial feeling fades, the patient will start to experience the benefits listed above in the following hours, days and weeks.
Another benefit of acupuncture is that as it is a holistic treatment, it relieves pain and discomfort without many of the side effects posed by other therapies and medication.
Common uses for acupuncture
1- Back Pain Relief
As 8 out of 10 people will experience back pain at some point in their life, it is the most common reason for seeking acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture is a useful alternative for those who want to avoid analgesic drugs. Studies have shown that acupuncture helps relieve back pain during pregnancy and work related back pain. If you suffer from you could benefit from acupuncture as it:
- Provides pain relief
- Reduces inflammation
- Improves joint mobility
- Reduces the use of mediation needed¡
- Provides a more cost-effective treatment long term
- Improves outcome when paired with conventional rehabilitation exercises
Acupuncture is a common alternative treatment for anxiety. Scientific evidence has shown that acupuncture has been effective for patients who didn’t respond to traditional treatment such as psychotherapy and medication. Participants experienced a significant reduction in anxiety after just 10 weeks of treatment.
The side effects that come with anti anxiety drugs can be harmful and may cause depression, mood swings and nausea so it’s always wise to decrease the dosage where possible and acupuncture can make that possible.
Acupuncture can induce sleep onset and reduce sleep disruption during the night according to studies from China. These effects lead to an increase in sleep time. It is also often used to treat physical conditions that make it difficult to sleep.
4- Acupuncture and cancer
Acupuncture is used to treat symptoms of cancer and the side effects of cancer treatment. One of the main reasons cancer patients have acupuncture treatment is to relieve sickness caused by chemotherapy or other cancer drugs. It is often recommended for patients who experience symptoms such as:
- Tiredness and weakness (fatigue)
- A dry mouth
- Hot flushes due to anti cancer treatments
Combining acupuncture with cancer treatment can slow hair loss after chemotherapy. It also helps boost immunity by enhancing platelet count and inhibited a reduction in healthy cells as a result of radiation therapy. Overall, acupuncture can help bolster protection and to improve recovery following cancer treatments.
Side effects of acupuncture
While acupuncture treatment won’t make your symptoms worse, there are a few side effects. Most of them are minimal and short lived. One of the most common acupuncture side effects is muscle soreness. Body parts where acupuncture needles get inserted can feel sore after needles are removed. Soreness from acupuncture typically dissipates within 24 hours.
Another side effect is bruising. While the majority of patients will never experience this, bruising can occur at the needling site. Sometimes bruising is the result of a hematoma, a localized collection of blood that gets initiated when the needle punctures the skin. Although bruises may last longer than soreness, they are generally nothing to worry about.
Patients may also experience involuntary muscle twitching. This can occur during or after acupuncture treatment. While these side effects are rarely a cause for concern, if you feel like they are too severe or last for a prolonged amount of time you should contact your acupuncturist
You may be reading the above and be wondering whether acupuncture could work for you, we can talk you through it to help you understand more, so please do not hesitate to contact the team for a free 15 minute consultation or book yourself an appointment. Matrix is built on years of professional knowledge and experience. We work with elite sports persons across football and UFC as well as the armed and emergency forces, so you are in good hands.