All About Acupuncture
If you're about to book your first acupuncture appointment, you're probably wondering how does acupuncture work, what does acupuncture do, and a host of other questions. But the treatment has been a mainstay of alternative medicine for, well, forever. After all, its first recorded use was all the way back in 100 BC. So let's break it all down for you so you can greet the needle with confidence.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an integral part of traditional Chinese medicine. Today, licensed practitioners use it to treat a variety of conditions, most notably chronic pain.
So, how does acupuncture work?
It's simple: during the procedure, they insert very thin, disposable needles into the skin at specific sites. These sites correspond to ancient "maps" that show practitioners where energy meridians lie in the body.
Watch an acupuncture treatment to see for yourself:
What does acupuncture do?
How acupuncture works on a physical level is something that Western medical practitioners are just beginning to understand. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) posits that acupuncture balances "chi," also known as life force, which is believed to flow through specific pathways in the body.
The meridian or pathway points of TCM do, by and large, correspond to specific nerves and organic structures in the body. Many Western practitioners therefore believe that the use of needles and pressure may stimulate certain nerves and possibly boost blood flow.
Eager to try acupuncture, but scared of needles? Here's what to expect when trying traditional Chinese medicine for the first time.
What is acupuncture good for?
Many people turn to acupuncture to address ailments that Western medicine has failed to resolve or for which the treatments come with significant side effects. It's also frequently recommended by Western practitioners as a complement to their treatment plans.
Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is consider to be very safe as long as you visit a licensed practitioner. If you're pregnant, you may want to avoid acupucture as some needle positions are thought to spur on labor.
How much does acupuncture cost?
It depends on where you're located, but an acupucture treatment with a consultation will typically cost $60 to $120. But getting a Groupon deal for acupuncture can bring that cost down more than 50%. There are also community acupuncture facilities, where acupuncture is performed in a group setting and payments operate on a sliding scale.
What can acupuncture treat?
The most common ailment that acupuncture treats is chronic pain. Several studies suggest that lower-back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis are conditions that may respond positively to acupuncture. Studies have also shown that acupuncture may be effective for treating tension headaches, migraines, and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
Other ailments said to be ameliorated by acupuncture include, but are not limited to, fibromyalgia, menstrual cramps, dental pain, and nicotine addiction. However, there is less clinical evidence to support the efficacy of acupuncture for many of these conditions.
An acupuncturist from one of America's top cities for seasonal allergies explains how acupuncture can help.
Is there downtime?
There is rarely downtime associated with acupuncture when it's performed by a licensed practitioner.
How often should appointments be scheduled?
According to the Mayo Clinic, a common treatment plan may schedule 6–12 sessions over several months. The exact treatment plan will vary depending on the condition you're treating and how you respond to each treatment. Speak to your practitioner to learn more about the typical treatment course for your ailment.
What are acupuncture reviews like?
"First time trying acupuncture and it was AMAZING! Lesley was great. I've been having back pain for years and I felt immediately better after just one session. Recommend 100%." – from Elizabeth A.'s review of Lesley M. Heidrich Acupuncture in Chicago
"Frank was the acupuncturist and he was very knowledgeable and easy to talk to. As the first of a series of three I look forward to the other two sessions. It was an excellent experience." – from Jerrihusch's review of Urban Tao Acupuncture and Herbology in DC
"This is the first time in 2 years that my shoulder is not in pain. Almost everything I did in my day to day life I had pain in my shoulder and lower back. I'm proud to say today I am pain free. Thank you Dr. Yeh!!! I will be back." – from Brooke T's review of Dallas Acupuncture Clinic