What Is Acupuncture?

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Acupuncture is a form of therapy that originates from Chinese medical practices, which aims at relieving pain by placing needles in specific regions of the body where the pain or discomfort is being felt, as well as distant areas that may be contributing to the pain. The appropriate combination of needle placement has the ability to reduce inflammation and pain, stiffness, and muscle spasms in some patients. Its effectiveness is also attributed to the release of pain relieving hormones called endorphins into the body. Some patients who feel like conventional treatment methods are not improving their symptoms may decide to try acupuncture and in certain cases, this form of therapy has been more effective than commonly used treatments.

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Types of Acupuncture

Acupuncture Therapy - Alternative MedicineThere are several types of acupuncture that are currently being used. These include:

  • Traditional acupuncture (needle acupuncture)
  • Electroacupuncture (electrically charged needles or electrical pads)
  • Laser acupuncture (Laser beams)
  • Manual or finger acupuncture

Traditional acupuncture entails the strategic placement of needles at certain points on the body in order to stimulate increased circulation and the release of pain relieving hormones. Electroacupuncture follows the same principles, but involves the use of either electrically charged needles or electrical pads that administer a small amount of current to regions of the body where the needles or pads are placed. This type of acupuncture is believed to enhance the effects of traditional acupuncture.

Laser acupuncture can lead to the stimulation of muscle tissue through the use of laser beams and in certain cases, has accelerated the recovery process by increasing circulation as well as the strength of damaged tissue. Manual or finger acupuncture simply replaces the use of needles, electrical pads, or laser beams with specific finger placement.

Typically, the risks of acupuncture are fairly low if the procedure is performed by an experienced and certified professional. Possible side effects include soreness and minor bruising or bleeding at the areas where the needles were placed, and minor skin irritation from electroacupuncture. More serious risks include injuries to the organs if the needles are positioned improperly or too deep, and infections if non-sterile needles are used.

In regard to laser acupuncture, it is important that an experienced professional uses laser beams that are 5 to 500 mW, 600-700 nm for red laser beams, and 800-1000 nm for near infrared laser beams, as anything higher can burn the skin. Furthermore, individuals who have bleeding disorders, a pacemaker, and pregnant women should avoid acupuncture. Despite these risks, when performed properly, acupuncture may be more beneficial than other commonly used pain treatments.

Conditions Related To Acupuncture

ArthritisConditions that can be treated with acupuncture include:

  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Carpel tunnel syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Arthritis
  • Back pain
  • Knee pain
  • Hip and leg pain
  • Neck pain
  • Joint pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Headaches

Peripheral neuropathy, which is a condition where damaged nerves can lead to motor and sensory deficits, is often hard to treat due to difficulty in identifying the exact cause. Acupuncture treatment is quite effective in that it leads to enhanced nerve conduction and an improvement in symptoms such as restored sensory and motor functions.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a very common condition characterized by tingling, numbness and pain in the hands and wrists as well as motor deficits. Acupuncture treatment, especially electroacupuncture, dramatically reduces these symptoms in mild to moderate cases of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Fibromyalgia is a painful musculoskeletal condition that can cause chronic fatigue, decreased physical activity, sleep problems, stiffness, and a decrease in overall well-being. Both manual and electroacupuncture have been used to treat fibromyalgia, but electroacupuncture helps reduce pain and stiffness and improves sleep. Traditional needle acupuncture has also helped reduce all reported symptoms for some patients who suffer from fibromyalgia.  When used to treat arthritis, traditional acupuncture produces the same type of results as when it is utilized for fibromyalgia.

In regard to being used as a form of treatment for pain in various parts of the body such as the back, shoulders, knees, hips, legs, neck, or joints, acupuncture has demonstrated the ability to increase fluid and oxygen circulation in damaged muscle tissue, reduce pain, and increase muscle strength while accelerating the recovery process.

Headaches are often the result of factors such as stress or tension, but may also develop due to persistent pain that may be caused by various conditions. Reducing pain through acupuncture treatment has the ability to simultaneously decrease the occurrence of headaches. Overall, the diverse manner in which acupuncture can be utilized as well as its effectiveness is causing this form of therapy to become increasingly popular.

Conclusion

Acupuncture is a specialized form of therapy that is used to treat pain by placing needles in specific regions of the body in order to stimulate circulation and enhance the body’s natural response to injuries or inflammation. The strategic placement of the needles has the ability reduce muscle stiffness and muscle spasms in some patients and even enhance the strength of damaged tissue during recovery.

In addition to traditional needle acupuncture, several different forms have been utilized over the years such as electroacupuncture, laser acupuncture, and manual or finger acupuncture. Each of these methods have shown to be effective at reducing pain by increasing circulation at the injured site as well as releasing pain relieving hormones called endorphins.

Conditions that can be treated with acupuncture include:

  • Back pain
  • Knee pain
  • Hip and leg pain
  • Neck pain
  • Joint pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Headaches
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Arthritis
  • Carpel tunnel syndrome

If acupuncture is not performed by an experienced and certified professional the risks may include improper placement, worsening of symptoms, and burning of the skin from laser acupuncture. However, when administered properly, acupuncture has been shown to be more effective at treating some conditions than commonly used treatments.

At Nevada Pain our goal is to relieve your pain and improve function to increase your quality of life.
Give us a call today at 702-912-4100.

References

  1. Amezaga Urruela M, Suarez-Almazor ME. Acupuncture in the treatment of rheumatic diseases. Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2012;14(6):589-97.
  2. Deare JC, Zheng Z, Xue CC, Liu JP, Shang J, Scott SW, Littlejohn G. Acupuncture for treating fibromyalgia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;5:CD007070.
  3. Hadianfard MJ, Hosseinzadeh Parizi M. A randomized clinical trial of fibromyalgia treatment with acupuncture compared with fluoxetine. Iran Red Crescent Med J. 2012;14(10):631-640.
  4. Khosrawi S, Moghtaderi A, Haghighat S. Acupuncture in treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome: A randomized controlled trial study. J Res Med Sci. 2012;17(1):1-7.
  5. Kumnerddee W, Kaewtong A. Efficacy of acupuncture versus night splinting for carpal tunnel syndrome: a rando-mized clinical trial. J Med Assoc Thai. 2010;93(12):1463–1469.
  6. Schröder S, Liepert J, Remppis A, Greten JH. Acupuncture treatment improves nerve conduction in peripheral neuropathy. Eur J Neurol. 2007;14(3):276-281.
  7. Wang C, de Pablo P, Chen X, Schmid C, McAlindon T. Acupuncture for pain relief in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic review. Arthritis Rheum. 2008;59(9):1249-56.