What is Acupuncture Therapy?

What is Acupuncture Therapy?

If you are new to holistic healing, you may have heard about acupuncture therapy. And while the image of having needles pressed into your skin can be a little terrifying, there’s a reason why it is also a therapy trusted by so many people for over 2,500 years. But does it hurt? 


This is probably one of the most asked questions, and you should know that, no, this procedure is not painful. And despite some of the initial fear, the ones who tried it, have often described this therapeutic procedure as a miracle. From healing allergies, easing pain, and even helping with depression acupuncture has been trusted as a cure for many health issues.


Acupuncture Therapy is a Chinese medicine-based procedure that was used to treat a diversity of health conditions by stimulating particular spots on the skin with hair-thin needles. During your session needles will be inserted into the skin to improve balance in your energy. The needles are lightly inserted on distinct areas that align with specific energy points.


In acupuncture, it is believed that the body is made of energy and each spot of the human body is connected to a particular stream of that energy. The needles are a way to stimulate your body’s natural way of working and healing. Acupuncture therapy awakens the body’s natural healing abilities and helps to repair the healthy balance between the mind and body.



The History Behind Acupuncture

Acupuncture is one of the main specialties in Traditional Chinese Medicine and has been around for thousands of years. Acupuncture came to be around the Chou dynasty (which was between 1030 BC to 221 BC). As a method of therapy that included using needles on specific points of the body. 


Acupuncture was designed to break the disruption in the course of the body’s life energy, also known as“qi,” which can create health issues. According to traditional Chinese medicine, the human body has over 1,000 acupuncture spots, also known as resting energy channels, or “meridian.” 


Each meridian is linked to a different part of your body and when the very thin needles are inserted in specific spots, it can spur a relaxation feeling and stimulate healing in a particular area of your body.


How Does This Therapy Work?

This type of therapy works by stimulating receptive nerves under the skin and muscles, encouraging the body to produce natural reactions against threats, such as endorphins, which are responsible for addressing pain relief. Acupuncture therapy has the potential to produce long-term relief of pain even with just one single treatment.


Acupuncture therapy has been known to help in a diversity of health issues, such as: 


  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic pain (which includes headaches, back, and neck pain)
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Weight loss


Acupuncture can also help with different health issues, such as addiction. And it can also be used to improve skin health. 


Health Benefits of Acupuncture Therapy

The benefits of this type of therapy are very well known, and many people who have been struggling with chronic pain and other health issues for an extended period of time, have benefited from acupuncture. Here’s an example of the most common health issues that acupuncture can help to improve. 


” One thing I always tell my patients is that Acupuncture is like a guide and/or a boost for the body to heal itself, as a whole”

Dr. Belmarie Millan, L.AC -Solerna Acupuncture-New York



Pain in the Lower Back 

Studies have been performed to analyze if natural therapies (which included acupuncture) could help with lower back pain. A report in 2017 concluded that after a session of acupuncture the improvement was almost immediate. Other types of non-pharmacologic approaches were also compared, and acupuncture was directly associated with positive results. 


However, it’s not yet known if acupuncture can treat this issue in the long term as there’s limited research on it, so it’s possible that you may need more than one session to address this type of health issue. 


Migraines can be persistent and hard to ignore, which can disrupt your entire day. Migraines can happen at random times. However, acupuncture can help to decrease the frequency of migraines as a trial in 2016 has concluded. 


This trial has observed over four thousand participants who suffered from migraines, and when acupuncture was included as one of the ways to help treat migraines, it has shown some improvement, especially on the reduction of the frequency of the migraine episode. 



Tension headaches are also another issue that can stop you from having a productive day. However, acupuncture can definitely help you, as a few studies have helped to conclude. 


When this type of therapy is included in the treatment of tension help, which is usually treated only with medication, the results were clear, and with only six sessions, the frequency of tension headaches has dropped significantly. 


Pain in Joints (Knee Pain) 

Acupuncture therapy also can help with knee pain, even if it’s caused by other illnesses such as osteoarthritis. Chronic knee pain is an issue that affects many people, and acupuncture can help to lessen the pain and discomfort associated with knee pain. 


Studies have found that acupuncture can decrease pain and improve physical function for someone who has been struggling with chronic knee pain for the short term (more research is needed). acupuncture seems to be able to subside symptoms for at least 13 weeks.


Another study has also concluded that when acupuncture is used as pain management treatment for someone who has been through a total knee arthroplasty, there has been a delay in the patient’s need for medication to relieve pain. Suggesting that acupuncture can perhaps replace the need for medication in some cases. 


What to Expect from Acupuncture Therapy? 

It’s normal to feel a little anxious before your first session (especially if you are not a fan of needles), but your therapist will help you to stay calm. It’s important to emphasize that acupuncture is not painful, and the best way to help with your treatment is to remain calm. 


Before your first session, your therapist (also known as an acupuncturist) will take your health and lifestyle history and make a full evaluation to ensure that you will receive the best treatment possible. Your therapist may also check for your tongue color and pulse, as in Chinese medicine, the tongue and pulses are thought to be able to reflect your health. 

  • During the procedure 

Acupuncture spots are located in different areas of your body. And it’s not unusual for the right spots to be far away from the source of the pain. When it comes to the number of needles needed it can be anything from 6 to more than 20 needles per session. It’s important to remember that the number of needles used, will not influence the intensity of the treatment. 


The needles may remain in place for around 10 to 20 minutes, and in some cases, your therapist may need to twist them during your session just to add more efficiency to your treatment.


Your acupuncture therapist will of course clarify any questions that you may have, as well as explain your treatment, as well as what type of clothing you will need to wear, but a towel or sheet are usually provided if needed. 


  • After the procedure

The reactions after acupuncture can vary, but you shouldn’t feel any pain when the needles are removed. Some people feel calm, others feel invigorated after their session, and some don’t feel anything different at all. 


People experience the benefits from acupuncture differently, but many have found acupuncture very helpful to help them manage a variety of troubling conditions. 


Possible Side Effects

Just like any other type of treatment, even if holistic, this holistic modality can include some risks, even if very unlikely. The most common side effects can include bleeding from the insertion of the needles, allergic reactions, nausea, dizziness, and pain. 


One thing that you should always keep in mind is to ensure that you are doing your acupuncture therapy with a professional and trained healthcare provider, so you can avoid or decrease your chances of experiencing any side effects. 


Final Thoughts

Acupuncture therapy is one of the best natural ways to manage many health issues and pain. If you are struggling with your conventional treatment, then it’s perhaps a good idea to look for a natural approach to complement your recovery and boost your health. 


And while it may seem a little daunting, this technique is incredibly beneficial to help you to feel better, to find some relief, and to feel hopeful after so many challenging struggles with your recovery. 


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Karolina Mankowski
Author: Karolina Mankowski


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