What can acupuncture be used for?
Acupuncture is the practice of penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles which are then activated through gentle and specific movements of the practitioners hands or with electrical stimulation. It is part of the ancient practice of Traditional Chinese medicine.
A growing body of evidence increasingly validates the practice of acupuncture. Acupuncture points are believed to stimulate the central nervous system, which in turn releases chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These biochemical changes may stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being. It may have direct effects on the tissues where the needles are inserted seen in connective tissue. It also has nonspecific effects. This may be due to the placebo effect, the relationship between the practitioner and the patient, or other factors not directly caused by the insertion of needles. It is found that these effects contribute to the beneficial effect of acupuncture on pain or other symptoms. Acupuncture is shown to be an effective treatment alone or in combination with conventional therapies. It can be used to treat nausea caused by surgical anesthesia and cancer chemotherapy, dental pain after surgery, addiction, headaches, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, and lower back pain. There is also evidence that it may help with stroke rehabilitation. Acupuncture is commonly used concurrently with conventional medicine.
Numerous randomized, controlled trials and more than 25 systematic reviews and meta-analyses have evaluated the clinical efficacy of acupuncture. Evidence from these trials indicates that acupuncture is effective for emesis developing after surgery or chemotherapy in adults for relieving dental pain. For such conditions as chronic pain, back pain, and headache, the data are equivocal or contradictory. Clinical research on acupuncture poses unique methodologic challenges. Properly performed acupuncture seems to be a safe procedure. Multiple research approaches have shown that acupuncture activates endogenous opioid mechanisms. Recent data suggest that acupuncture has regionally specific, quantifiable effects on relevant brain structures. It may stimulate gene expression of neuropeptides. Although not entirely understood, the use of acupuncture is rapidly growing.
Relatively few complications from using acupuncture have been reported. However, this resulted from use of nonsterile needles and improper delivery treatments. When not delivered properly, it can cause serious adverse effects, including infections, punctured organs, and injury to the central nervous system. The FDA regulates acupuncture needles as medical devices and requires that they be sterile and labeled for single sue only.
Kaptchuk T. J. (2002). Acupuncture: theory, efficacy, and practice. Annals of internal medicine, 136(5), 374–383. https://doi.org/10.7326/0003-4819-136-5-200203050-00010
Acupuncture: What You Need To Know. (n.d.). NCCIH. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/acupuncture-what-you-need-to-know
Acupuncture. (2023, March 13). Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/acupuncture
Acupuncture is an ancient healing practice form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body from over 2,500 years ago. These points, known as acupoints, are believed to be interconnected by pathways called meridians through which energy, known as qi, flows. By stimulating these acupoints, practitioners aim to restore the balance of qi and promote overall health and well-being.
Acupuncture is well-known for its ability to alleviate pain. It is commonly used to treat various conditions, including chronic pain, migraines, back pain, osteoarthritis, and menstrual cramps. The insertion of needles is thought to stimulate the release of endorphins, which are natural pain-relieving chemicals in the body, providing relief and promoting a sense of relaxation. Additionally, acupuncture is often sought after for its ability to reduce stress and improve emotional well-being. The process of acupuncture promotes deep relaxation, activating the parasympathetic nervous system and reducing the production of stress hormones. This can lead to improved mood, reduced anxiety, and better overall mental health. Many individuals report improved sleep quality and duration following acupuncture treatments. By promoting relaxation, acupuncture can help regulate sleep patterns and alleviate conditions such as insomnia or restless leg syndrome. Restorative sleep can contribute to better overall health and increased energy levels. Acupuncture is considered a complementary therapy that can be used alongside conventional medical treatments. It may assist in managing a range of health conditions, including digestive disorders, allergies, respiratory issues, fertility concerns, and side effects associated with cancer treatment. However, it is crucial to consult with healthcare professionals to determine the appropriate integration of acupuncture into one's healthcare regimen. Acupuncture is highly individualized, with practitioners assessing each person's unique needs and concerns. During an initial consultation, the practitioner will inquire about medical history, symptoms, and lifestyle factors to develop a personalized treatment plan. This tailored approach ensures that the treatment addresses specific health goals and concerns effectively. When seeking acupuncture, it is essential to choose a qualified and licensed acupuncturist. Ensuring proper hygiene practices, such as using sterile needles for each treatment, is crucial to minimize the risk of infections. Additionally, discussing any pre-existing medical conditions or medications with the practitioner is essential to ensure safe and effective treatment. Sensations experienced during acupuncture can vary from person to person. Some individuals may feel a slight tingling, dull ache, or a sensation of warmth or heaviness at the insertion sites. Discomfort during acupuncture is typically minimal, and any sensations usually subside quickly. Open communication with the practitioner regarding any discomfort or concerns is vital for a positive treatment experience.
Following acupuncture, mild side effects such as temporary bruising, bleeding, or soreness at the needle insertion sites may occur. These effects are generally minimal and short-lived. While rare, serious complications such as infections or organ injury can occur if acupuncture is performed by untrained or inexperienced individuals. To mitigate these risks, it is crucial to seek treatment from licensed and reputable practitioners who adhere to proper safety protocols.
Acupuncture offers a holistic approach to health and well-being, addressing a range of physical, emotional, and mental concerns. Its benefits include pain relief, stress reduction, improved sleep, and support for various health conditions. With personalized treatment plans and the guidance of licensed practitioners, acupuncture can be a valuable addition to an individual's healthcare regimen. However, it is important to consider safety, hygiene, individualized treatment, and potential side effects when embarking on an acupuncture journey. By fostering open communication with the practitioner and prioritizing one's well-being, individuals can experience the potential benefits of this ancient healing practice.
“Acupuncture: What You Need To Know | NCCIH.” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/acupuncture-what-you-need-to-know.
Acupuncture is used as a treatment for pain and many other conditions. Acupuncture is a practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine in which it’s believed to restore the normal flow of energy in the body. It’s believed that an interruption in the flow of energy is what causes disease. The theory is that meridians and collaterals run along the body and pertain to the internal organs. The idea is that pain can be alleviated in one part of the body by pricking another part. Treatment included needles of stone, bone, bamboo, metals, and stainless steel (Ifrim Chen, F., Antochi, A. D., & Barbilian, A. G.). Stainless steel is most commonly used in modern times. Thin needles puncture the skin at specific locations on the body. The needle is then manipulated once in the skin.
The insertion of needles according to these locations on the body are capable of having therapeutic outcomes. The way the needle is entered into the skin affects the results of the treatment. The angle, depth, speed, and withdrawal of the needle depends on the condition being treated and the location. The mechanism of acupuncture in modern times shows that it has an effect on the nervous system. The mechanism is not completely known, but it is possible that the release of endogenous opioids, serotonin, and norepinephrine may affect nociceptors, inflammatory cytokines, and other pain mechanisms.
Acupuncture is commonly used for lower back pain. Studies have shown that the effects on chronic lower back pain are more prevalent than for acute lower back pain. It can be used as a complement to standard treatment. Acupuncture can also be used for osteoarthritis in the short term. There can be larger effects after several treatments or using electroacupuncture. There have also been studies on the use of acupuncture for headaches. Verum acupuncture has over a 50% reduction in headache frequency compared to sham acupuncture. Acupuncture is considered safe with few adverse effects. Some mild adverse effects include fatigue, local pain, or headache. More severe side effects include nausea, fainting, emotional reactions, or severe or prolonged symptoms (Kelly, R. B. & Willis, J.).
Acupuncture may have anti-inflammatory effects at acupuncture point ST36. ST36 is located on the leg on the tibialis anterior muscle. Studies have shown that this effect is dependent on vagus nerve integrity and production of catecholamines. Some other anti-inflammatory mechanisms for acupuncture at ST36 included the TLR4/NF-κB signaling, c-Kit signaling, activation of parasympathetic efferent pathway, CX3CL1 signaling pathway, and many others (Oh, J. E. & Kim, S. N.).
Acupuncture has a long history of use for thousands of years. The mechanism behind its success has transformed as society has become more modernized and acupuncture has been studied. While many studies have shown bias since there is no way to blind participants, there has still been proven success for many conditions. Acupuncture is mainly used for pain in the United States. Further studies are needed for the use of acupuncture in anxiety and many other conditions. Since ancient China, acupuncture has been used in the treatment of diseases following the idea of qi, and yin and yang. Further investigation is required for many of its other uses.
Acupuncture. Acupuncture | Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2023, March 13). https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/acupuncture
Ifrim Chen, F., Antochi, A. D., & Barbilian, A. G. (2019). Acupuncture and the retrospect of its modern research. Romanian journal of morphology and embryology = Revue roumaine de morphologie et embryologie, 60(2), 411–418.
Kelly, R. B., & Willis, J. (2019). Acupuncture for Pain. American family physician, 100(2), 89–96.
Oh, J. E., & Kim, S. N. (2022). Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Acupuncture at ST36 Point: A Literature Review in Animal Studies. Frontiers in immunology, 12, 813748. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2021.813748
Acupuncture is a technique where practitioners stimulate specific points on the body, often by inserting thin needles through the skin. It’s a practice used in traditional Chinese medicine, typically to relieve some health conditions and symptoms, such as pain. An acupuncturist inserts very thin steel needles into the patient’s skin at multiple acupoints and the needles will rebalance the body’s energy, or qi, and prompt the body to release natural chemicals to fight the illness or symptom. Scientific studies have confirmed its effectiveness for some conditions. Acupuncture can be used to treat arthritis, back/neck/muscle pain, headaches/migraines, knee pain, menstrual cramps, and sports injuries.
For low-back pain, a 2012 analysis of data on participants in acupuncture studies looked at back and neck pain together and found that actual acupuncture was more helpful than either no acupuncture or simulated acupuncture. A 2010 review by the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality found that acupuncture relieves lower-back pain immediately after treatment by not over longer periods of time. There was also a 2012 analysis of data on participants in acupuncture studies that looked at migraine and tension headaches. The analysis showed that actual acupuncture was more effective than either no acupuncture or simulated acupuncture in reducing headache frequency or severity. A 2009 systematic review of studies concluded that actual acupuncture, compared with simulated acupuncture or pain-relieving drugs, helped people with tension-type headaches. A 2008 review of studies suggested that actual acupuncture has a very slight advantage over simulated acupuncture in reducing tension-type headache intensity and the number of headaches days per month.
Results from a number of studies suggest that acupuncture may help easy types of pain that are often chronic, such as lower back pain, neck pain ,and osteoarthritis/knee pain. It may also help reduce the frequency of tension headaches and prevent migraines. Therefore, acupuncture appears to be a reasonable option for people with chronic pain to consider. However, clinical practice guidelines are inconsistent in recommendations about acupuncture. The effects of acupuncture on the brain and body is only beginning to be understood and current evidence suggests many factors, like expectation and belief, that may play important roles in the beneficial effects of acupuncture on pain. There are few complications from using acupuncture, which usually result from the use of nonsterile needles and improper delivery of treatments. When it’s not delivered properly, acupuncture can cause serious adverse effects, which includes infections, punctured organs, collapsed lungs, and injury to the central nervous system.
Clinical trials often differ in terms of technique, the number of acupuncture points, the number of sessions, and the duration of those sessions, making it a challenge to do studies on acupuncture. The results of an acupuncture session may be associated with a person’s beliefs and expectations about their treatment or their relationship with the therapist, rather than from the acupuncture treatment itself. In some clinical trials, simulated acupuncture, which used blunt-tipped retractable needles that touch the skin, but do not penetrate, and researchers have observed that simulated acupuncture have observed that simulated acupuncture did result in some degree of pain relief.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Acupuncture: In depth. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Retrieved March 24, 2022, from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/acupuncture-in-depth
Acupuncture: What is it, how it works, treatments. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2022, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/4767-acupuncture
Acupuncture is a healing technique used for over thousands of years. In 1997, the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) documented the safety and efficacy of acupuncture use for treating a wide range of conditions. Acupuncture, in today’s world, is covered by many insurance policies and is used to mainly to relieve pain. It works by improving the body’s function and promoting the natural healing process by stimulating specific sites called acupuncture points. These points are stimulated by inserting fine, sterile needles into the skin. The benefits can also be enhanced with the use of pressure, heat or electrical stimulation. Other types of acupuncture are massages, heat therapy, cupping, and application of topical herbal medicines and liniments. The number of treatment sessions differ from person to person because it depends on the severity of pain. For chronic conditions, sometimes it is recommended to get it done twice a week for several months. For more acute issues, fewer sessions are typically required. There have been many clinical trials that show benefits in musculoskeletal pain, nausea, migraines, headaches, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and even infertility. There are many uses for acupuncture that are clinically proven. However, there are also a great amount of uses that have limited evidence of efficacy. Over time, hopefully there is more evidence and the use of acupuncture broadens more than it already has. One of the barriers could be cost. However, acupuncture sessions are cheaper than most medical treatment sessions of other sorts. The average price per treatment is $85, which seems pretty affordable. This does depend on how many sessions is needed. Acupuncture seems like an amazing way to relieve pain in this day and age and hopefully we keep improving acupuncture treatment and make it available to more people as time passes.
1. “How Acupuncture Can Relieve Pain and Improve Sleep, Digestion and Emotional Well-Being.” UC San Diego School of Medicine, https://medschool.ucsd.edu/som/fmph/research/cim/clinicalcare/Pages/About-Acupuncture.aspx.
2. “Acupuncture.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 26 Mar. 2021, https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/acupuncture/about/pac-20392763.
Written by: Hillary Pham and Jae Chang
For many years now, acupuncture has been rapidly adapted into Western culture as a method of alternative medicine. This method was originally developed in traditional Chinese medicine, and it has reached people from all over the globe due to its outcome. Acupuncture is a practice of medicine in which thin needles are inserted into the body. By doing so, it helps to alleviate any form of pain or stress to these individuals. This practice of medicine has been thoroughly evaluated by many researchers and has been proved to be clinically effective and safe. Acupuncture is well practiced by many practitioners because of the results that it can provide. Individuals who choose to have acupuncture done may be seeking it for revival, energy, relief, and so much more.
What is the process of acupuncture like? Acupuncture is the practice of penetrating the skin with a very thin needle. These needles are inserted at specific locations in the body or the acupoints that, according to classic Chinese theory, are linked together in a network known as meridians that run along the body. The traditional concept of acupuncture is that by inserting the needles throughout the meridian points or channels which contain the meridian qi, the disrupted meridian channels by diseases are stimulated and influenced to alleviate or cure the disease state. The acupuncture points will then be activated through gentle and specific movements done by a licensed acupuncturist. It is important to note that these needles that are being used should be sterilized and cleaned in order to prevent any infection to the body. The sterilized acupuncture needles are indeed, regulated by FDA as a single time use. If done so accurately, individuals should not feel any pain when the needles are to be inserted. And once inserted, patients will immediately feel a relief of pain or ache releasing from the body. There are many different techniques that can be done during an acupuncture session. Some of which may include the traditional way, an additional use of heat, or even the use of an electrical current.
With regard to the needle manipulation, it consists of rapid rotation and/or pistoning of the needle. This method is performed to “obtain qi” or to access and influence the meridian network. The acupuncturist should feel a slight tugging on the needle during the procedure, and this is described to be a biomechanical phenomenon of needle grasp and forms the core of acupuncture’s theoretical construct. A study was performed on humans and animals using a computerized acupuncture needling instrument to quantify the needle grasp by measuring the force needed to pull out the inserted needle. It was observed that the rotation of the needle significantly enhanced the pullout force of the needle. Another study performed by Langevin and colleagues used 60 healthy human subjects to test the difference of needle grasp in different areas of the body. Using eight acupoints and corresponding control points on the opposite side of the body 2 cm away from the acupoints, it was observed that there was an 18% greater pullout force than the corresponding control points, and needle grasp was enhanced in both control group and acupoints when needle manipulation was performed. Langevin and colleagues ultimately proposes using the evidence gathered from their research that needle manipulation along connective tissue plains causes cellular changes. Although cellular changes occur anywhere that the needle is placed, it may be enhanced upon administration at acupoints.
Acupuncture has become a common practice due to the benefits that can result towards an individual's overall health. Earlier forms of acupuncture used sharpened stones and long sharp bones to penetrate the skin, and this practice dates back to around 6000 BC. It is a practice that has been performed for thousands of years, which may suggest actual benefit, as opposed to common perception of placebo effect. Although acupuncture can be done in any health conditions, the most common is seen in the form of pain. Individuals with chronic back pain typically seek the help of acupuncture in order to alleviate the ache and pain they are experiencing. And some believe that by regularly practicing this alternative medicine, it can help to improve an individual's overall health and prevent future health complications. Regardless of what one may believe, acupuncture is done to help provide relief and well-being to individuals.
“Acupuncture.” The Johns Hopkins University, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Johns Hopkins Health System. (2021).
Kaptchuk, T. J. (2002). Acupuncture: theory, efficacy, and practice. Annals of internal medicine, 136(5), 374-383.
Langevin HM, Yandow JA. Relationship of acupuncture points and meridians to connective tissue planes. Anat Rec. 2002 Dec 15;269(6):257-65. doi: 10.1002/ar.10185. PMID: 12467083.
Written by Tommy Li and Jerry Lau
China, a country from where many Eastern medical practices originated, has been practicing the field of acupuncture for over more than three thousand years. What exactly is acupuncture? In a very simplified definition, it is a technique used by medical professionals in Eastern medicine to treat pain, alleviate stress, reduce anxiety, and improve overall wellness. Practitioners of this therapy use thin, solid, metallic needles to penetrate patients' skin at crucial meridian points in the body to enhance health. It is believed that meridians are part of an energy pathway throughout the body that is responsible for overall health. By applying needles at the proper key places, the body's energy flow is improved, thus improving general health. From the perspective of Western medicine, it is believed that acupuncture, in the hands of the right certified practitioner, stimulates the body's central nervous system; this releases chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain, which in turn stimulates the body's natural healing abilities and promotes physical and emotional well being (4).
Although research towards acupuncture was initiated hundreds of years ago and with rapid development, there is still no conclusive evidence regarding all the positive acupuncture claims in clinical studies. Physicians tend to apply acupuncture to clinical practice, while scientists crave to discover the possible underlying logic of acupoints and the meridians. The actual effectiveness of acupuncture and its physiological and biological mechanisms are being evaluated in modern society. A large amount of research is being done as we witness more patients willing to move from Western views of medicine to adopt more alternative therapies such as this one. There is much evidence that points to the potential benefits of acupuncture treatment. For example, in one study, acupuncture in allergic asthma patients was shown to increase disease-specific and health-related quality of life compared to patients that received routine treatment (1). In another study, acupuncture was shown to be potentially beneficial for patients who have Bortezomib Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (BIPN), with the therapy alleviating associated sensory and pain-related symptoms. However, further randomized controlled studies are needed to determine the effectiveness of acupuncture to treat BIPN (2). Furthermore, acupuncture has been shown to provide significant relief in back pain, one of the most common musculoskeletal complaints in the adult population (approximately seventy-five percent of adults) (3).
Today, scientists and medical professionals are searching for new ways to treat the plethora of conditions that have arisen from modern society. As a result, the present research available on acupuncture will have to be transformed into proven and effective clinical outcomes. At the same time, providers need to be willing to understand the needs of their patients who would be suitable for such alternative therapies and not be hung up on primarily using Western therapies. Based on the state of current achievements, we believe that although challenges and difficulties exist for broader adoption of this practice, a more collaborative, innovative, and integrated approach to alternative therapies will help us achieve further progress for the future prospects of acupuncture.
(1) Leem J, Kim H, Jo HG, et al. Efficacy and safety of thread embedding acupuncture combined with conventional acupuncture for chronic low back pain: A study protocol for a randomized, controlled, assessor-blinded, multicenter clinical trial. Medicine (Baltimore). 2018;97(21):e10790.
(2) Zhi WI, Ingram E, Li SQ, Chen P, Piulson L, Bao T. Acupuncture for Bortezomib-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy: Not Just for Pain. Integr Cancer Ther. 2018;17(4):1079-1086.
(3) Brinkhaus B, Roll S, Jena S, et al. Acupuncture in Patients with Allergic Asthma: A Randomized Pragmatic Trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2017;23(4):268-277.
(4)Acupuncture. Health. Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/acupuncture. Accessed Aug 25, 2021.
Acupuncture originated from the ancient practice of Traditional Chinese medicine. Acupuncture is performed by the insertion of needles into the body for the treatment of disease and pain. It has been practiced in China for at least 4,500 years (was initiated during the BC time era, specifically 2500 BC by the Chinese Emperor Huangdi). The theory of acupuncture was developed based on the development of the idea of qi (chi), life-force, or energy. For at least 25% of the world's population, it is even more commonly used than aspirin! As a matter of fact, each of us human beings have actually experienced acupuncture point stimulation in one form or another. An epitome of this is that a simple back rub often reveals tender points in the back and shoulders. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners believe the human body has more than 2,000 acupuncture points that are connected by pathways. The Chinese refer to these sore points as "ahshi" points which is a certain type of acupuncture point.
As mentioned, there are too many acupuncture points to count but the most common points would be in the “hegu- large intestine channel”- a point that is located on the back side of the hand between the thumb and first finger, “lieque- lung channel”- a point that is located above the wrist on the inside of the arm, and “zusanli- stomach channel”- a point that is located on the front of the leg, just below the knee. Different target areas are designed to treat different times of pain such as to relieve pain and treat inflammatory/feverish diseases, treat disorders of the upper body including headache and stiffness of the neck, and treating anemia and immune deficiencies respectively with the three channel examples listed above.
Acupuncture is done with the use of hair-thin needles. The vast majority of people undergoing acupuncture report minimal pain upon insertion of the needles into the body. These hair-thin needles are inserted to a point that produces a sensation of pressure or even an ache. The needles may be heated during the treatment or mild electric current can also be applied to them. What I find to be one of the most interesting facts about acupuncture is that while some people state that acupuncture makes them feel energized, others state that they feel more relaxed- and this could be at the same targeted channels!
There are several clear precautions that must be taken to ensure that the acupuncture is performed correctly. First and foremost, needles must be sterilized prior to performing acupuncture to prevent infection. In addition to this, improper placement of the needle can cause a lot of pain during treatment. This is why it is so important to seek treatment from a qualified acupuncture practitioner. Albeit acupuncture used to solely be able to be performed by physicians in the United States, that rule no longer applies as now there are certificates and programs to become a licensed acupuncturist which is sufficient to practice acupuncture in all 50 states now. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates acupuncture needles just as it does other medical devices under good manufacturing practices and single-use standards of sterility which is very crucial as, simply a matter of fact, these needles are inserted into the human body. Other alternatives to acupuncture that utilize the same pressure points include moxibustion (heat), acupressure, and cupping (suction).
Wang, C. Common Points Found on the Meridian Chart- Acupuncture School Blog. Acupuncture Massage College. https://www.amcollege.edu/blog/commonly-used-acupuncture-points
Hong, G. Acupuncture: The Historical Basis and Its US Practitioners. Alternative Medicine II.
Acupuncture- What is acupuncture? Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/acupuncture
Acupuncture is a form of therapy which originated in ancient Chinese medicine. However, with many CAM practices, the western world has had an increase interest in incorporating these practices in our wellness journey. During acupuncture, thin sterile needles are inserted into specific points on the skin at varying depths. From an ancient medicine perspective, acupuncture works to balance the “qi” or “yin” and “yang”. Qi flows through pathways in the human body and is accessible through 350 points. Inserting needles into these points is said to bring energy flow back into proper balance. From a neuroscience perspective, acupuncture points are seen as places where nerves, muscles, and connective tissue can be stimulated. The stimulation increases blood flow, while at the same time triggering the activity of the body’s natural painkillers.
Acupuncture is not only used to treat muscle pain, but it can also be used to treat a wide variety of skin issues wrinkles, sagging, rosacea, acne (particularly adult acne), eczema, and psoriasis. Additionally, it can help with depuffing and brightening the skin. Regular acupuncture treatments can help you feel more relaxed and sleep better. Once your stress is reduced, your skin will look better since stress is at the root of many skin issues. By addressing your emotional needs along with your physical ones, acupuncture packs a one-two punch in treating your skin care issues as well. As mentioned above, committing to using acupuncture for skin care means agreeing to multiple sessions instead of just taking a pill or slathering on a cream. Furthermore, acupuncture facials have started to emerge. This treatment is used to slow the signs of aging by placing needles on the fact to stimulate collagen production and blood flow.
Acupuncture: How it works, uses, benefits, and risks. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/156488#uses. Accessed May 27, 2021.\
Zhuang Y, Xing JJ, Li J, Zeng BY, Liang FR. History of acupuncture research. Int Rev Neurobiol. 2013;111:1-23. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-411545-3.00001-8
Acupuncture has often been used in traditional medicine to treat many conditions, although the science behind it is still unclear and mostly suggesting a placebo effect. Acupuncture is the technique in which the practitioner inserts thin needles into specific points on the body with the purpose of stimulating or restoring the flow of qi (energy) throughout the body. Some research suggests that acupuncture stimulates the release of endogenous opioids and neurotransmitters, leading to effects on nociceptors, inflammatory cytokines, and other physiologic mechanisms. Acupuncture is usually done for health conditions like chronic pain, osteoarthritis, and headaches. Clinical studies favoring acupuncture as an effective treatment are often biased since it’s not easy to blind patients during clinical trials for comparison of results. For example, a 2011 Cochrane Review evaluated the efficacy of acupuncture for cancer-related pain in adults. This systematic review looked at five randomized controlled trials that evaluated any type of acupuncture use for pain directly related to cancer in adults. The trials compared the use of acupuncture to either sham acupuncture or standard pain-killing medications. Another bias that was highlighted was the small sample sizes used in all five trials. The results of the studies showed variable responses to acupuncture, including no difference between real and sham electroacupuncture for ovarian cancer-related pain and some benefit of acupuncture in pancreatic cancer-related pain. Overall, the Cochrane Review concluded that the trials did not have sufficient evidence to support the clinical use of acupuncture in cancer-related pain. Another issue with acupuncture is the potential for causing additional harm to the patient instead of alleviating the condition. When done inaccurately by someone who is not well-trained or using unsterile needles, possible adverse events include pain, infections, punctured organs, collapsed lungs, and CNS injury. However, acupuncture that is performed by a certified practitioner is typically well-tolerated.
Acupuncture: in depth. NIH. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/acupuncture-in-depth. Updated January 2016. Accessed March 25, 2021.
Kelly RB, Willis J. Acupuncture for Pain. Am Fam Physician. 2019;100(2):89-96.
Paley CA, Johnson MI, Tashani OA, Bagnall AM. Acupuncture for cancer pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;2015(10):CD007753. Published 2015 Oct 15. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007753.pub3
Source 1: Acupuncture is the practice of penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles which are then activated through gentle and specific movements of the practitioner's hands or with electrical stimulation. Acupuncture is part of the ancient practice of Traditional Chinese medicine. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners believe the human body has more than 2,000 acupuncture points connected by pathways or meridians. These pathways create an energy flow through the body that is responsible for overall health. Disruption of the energy flow can cause disease. By applying acupuncture to certain points, it is thought to improve the flow of Qi, thereby improving health.
Acupuncture points are believed to stimulate the central nervous system. Patients refer to acupuncturists for alleviation ranging from physical conditions like chronic back pain, sciatica, muscle cramping, to emotional conditions like anxiety, insomnia, and depression. Oftentimes, patients see acupuncturists as a more holistic and natural way of healing, possibly a last resort after being on prescription medications for an extended period of time. It could be done as the sole form of treatment or in conjunction with conventional medicine. Source 2: Chinese traditional textbooks describe the ah-shi point, the point that is hit by the inserted needle to evoke a vocal reaction to pain, as a type of acupuncture point. That is, tenderness is one of the physiological characters of acupuncture points. Acupuncture is not for everyone and further clinical studies still are in progress to prove efficacy. If a patient chooses to try acupuncture, it is important to visit an acupuncturist who is licensed as having proper training and credentials.
There has been a push and popularization in the recent years on therapies that do not involve medications. Acupuncture is one of the methods used for symptom management. The treatment dates back to traditional Chinese medicine roots as a form of alternative medicine. It was theorized that when you open a blockage, in this case the skin, energy is restored within one’s body and wellness is promoted. Acupuncture can be used for the treatment of many disease states like anxiety, depression and chronic pain. Although it looks fairly intimidating, acupuncture is a very minimally invasive treatment, causing nerve stimulation on the organs and tissues in specific areas of the skin affected. It is ironically used for the alleviation of pain even though the treatment itself looks fairly painful. Multiple factors contribute to the differences in treatment within acupuncture to produce therapeutic effects. The specialist can vary in needle technique, number of needles used, duration of needle retention, acupuncture point specificity, number of treatments and many subjective (physiological) factors. The treatment is not invasive enough to cause pain but breaking the skin barrier is thought to cause an effective response from the body’s immune system. It was also studied that it takes about 15 to 20 minutes in order to feel the effects of acupuncture in a patient undergoing therapy. Sometimes the acupuncture treatment is used for patients that are paralyzed, in order to stimulate nerves in the paralyzed area. The acupuncture use can even contribute to an obvious decrease in stiffness in the area the patient is paralyzed in. Acupuncture has also been used in the pregnant and pediatric population. Acupuncture may exert modest benefits in the treatment of chronic pain, tension and chronic headaches and migraine headache prophylaxis. Acupuncture use itself has little to no adverse reactions including bleeding, tissue injury on the skin, localized pain, tiredness and headache. There have been some controlled trials on the benefit of acupuncture for acute back pain, knee osteoarthritis and even fibromyalgia. Some actually think that use of acupuncture is a placebo response as studies conducted noted statistical significance that with questionable clinical significance. It was studied that the effectiveness of acupuncture may actually be related to the patient’s expectation of the treatment before undergoing the procedure and individualized patient interaction with the acupuncturist can create a placebo like response especially because the outcome of pain relief is subjective to each specific individual. It is important to emphasize the use of sterility in these types of procedures. It is stressed to use each acupuncture needle as one time use only in order to prevent cross contamination amongst patients. If cross contamination were to occur, the individual is at increased risk of infection like Hepatitis B that can be spread when sharing needles through bodily fluids. This actually occurred in the 1980s when sterility was not stressed in acupuncture and specialists would use the same needles on multiple people without proper sterilization. Today, this has been mostly eliminated as sterilization across all fields of medicine, even alternative medicine, is highly recommended and followed through.
Kelly RB, Willis J. Acupuncture for Pain. Am Fam Physician. 2019 Jul 15;100(2):89-96. PMID: 31305037.
Acupuncture therapy originated in China and is often assumed to be a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture claims to increase qi, or energy flow, to certain parts of the body that need it the most via the insertion of a very fine needle on specific acupuncture points. Acupuncture points are considered the crucial components of acupuncture therapy for diagnosis and treatment. Unfortunately, despite many studies trying to find the significance and proof of acupuncture points, no clear evidence of their existence has been established. The first study done on acupuncture was conducted in a Chinese university. This study demonstrated that 15 to 20 minutes is required before participants would feel an analgesic effect. The study team then proposed that chemical substances being released in the body were resulting in the analgesic effects of acupuncture. Endogenous opioid peptides were considered major candidates for a role in acupuncture’s action, as acupuncture analgesia is antagonized by the opioid receptor antagonist naloxone. While many people report feeling better after an acupuncture session due to the supposed releasing of these endogenous opioids, research suggests that there is no difference between acupuncture and sham acupuncture, which uses toothpicks instead of needles. There is, however, significant difference when comparing sham and real acupuncture to no treatment at all. Although acupuncture is generally viewed as safe, acupuncture needles have been known to cause serious adverse events when inserted inadequately, as the insertion of the needle induces tissue injury. In the 1980s, cross-infection of the hepatitis B virus through the use of unsterilized acupuncture needles was identified as another serious issue, but now due to the needles being single-use and sterile, the transfer of hepatitis B through acupuncture needles have mostly been eliminated.
Vickers AJ, Linde K. Acupuncture for chronic pain. JAMA. 2014;311(9):955-6.
Kawakita K, Okada K. Acupuncture therapy: mechanism of action, efficacy, and safety: a potential intervention for psychogenic disorders?. Biopsychosoc Med. 2014;8(1):4.
Acupuncture is a type of alternative medicine used in traditional Chinese medicine for multiple diseases and conditions. It is used to treat pain, nausea, breathing difficulty, allergies, etc. The underlying principle is the qi or “vital energy” that flows in the body and when it is blocked, qi is disrupted. Acupuncture aims to restore wellness by opening the blockage. Theories on its mechanism include how it influences inflammatory markers, how the pressure manipulates loose tissues that cause immunomodulation, and how natural opioids are released. Acupuncture is becoming more used currently with 1.5% of the US population using it at some point. It is even covered by some insurance plans now. Two specific contraindications to acupuncture are patients with an automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator(AICD) and patients that suffer from psychosis. Acupuncture has even been used in pregnant and pediatric patients. Small sterile needles, ranging from 10 to 100 mm are applied to different points in the body depending on what is being treated. They should be single use only and it is left on for 10 to 20 minutes. In the 1980s, there were cross-infection of the Hepatitis B virus because needles were unsterilized but now, needles are single-use. Complications from acupuncture are usually minimal but anything that involves needles have a risk of infections, bleeding, disease transmission, etc. If the needles are inserted inappropriately, adverse events can happen since the needles are producing a tissue injury in the skin. Alternative medicines are often not candidates for randomized controlled trials so there are limited studies done on acupuncture. There were 6 randomized controlled trials that showed acupuncture had a small benefit in chronic low back pain in the 1, 3, and 6 months follow up but in sham acupuncture where they used toothpicks as the needles, it also had the same effect. Further clinical studies need to be done to show efficacy of acupuncture.
Kawakita K, Okada K. Acupuncture therapy: mechanism of action, efficacy, and safety: a potential intervention for psychogenic disorders?. Biopsychosoc Med. 2014;8(1):4. Published 2014 Jan 20. doi:10.1186/1751-0759-8-4
Van Hal M, Dydyk AM, Green MS. Acupuncture. [Updated 2020 May 24]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532287/
Acupuncture can be used for the treatment of a variety different diseases and symptoms. Some uses of acupuncture includes allergies, anxiety, depression, osteoarthritis, chronic pain specifically in neck, back, knees, and head, hypertension, insomnia, menstrual cramps, migranes, morning sickness, sprains and strokes. Personally I first heard about acupuncture as a kid because my uncle was getting treatment for his Bell’s palsey. At the time I wasn’t sure what this was, but now I was interested to see if and how acupuncture would work for it. Acupuncture is a minimally invasive treatment, which stimulates nerve-rich areas of the skin surface in order to affect various tissues, gland, organs, and various functions of the body. The theory is the minimal damage is small enough to not cause any pain, but effective to stimulate a response from the immune system. Bell’s palsy is a sudden paralysis of one side of the face that will usually recover within 6 months. Approximately 30% of patients have complications such as unrecovered paresis, contracture of facial muscles, facial spasms, or other involuntary muscle spasms. Bell’s palsy can reduce someones ability to drink, eat, and speak. In addition, because the facial change can affects someones appearance or influence their interactions, they may have a decreased personal quality of life. The only treatments available include steroids, which are clinically proven to work only within 72 hours of symptoms, and antivrials, which aren’t clinically proven to be effective. A randomized controlled trial of 39 patients, 26 who received acupuncture and 13 in a control group underwent acupuncture for 8 weeks. These patients had sequelae of Bell’s palsys. After the study was completed, the results identified significant positive improvements in FDI (facial disability score). The results also identified positive results in the Sunnybrook Facial Nerve Grading score based on 3 aspects: facial symmetry, movement asymmetry, and synkinesis. The study concluded that acupuncture can positively influence facial nerve function positively even at long after the initial onset of Bell’s palsy with an obvious decrease in facial stiffness in the acupuncture group. This treatment also was considered safe for patients