Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Acupuncture--What is it? Does it Work?

Acupuncture is a practice that falls under the heading of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Simply put, it’s not part of the standard medical care typically administered by nurses, doctors or other healthcare providers. However, licensed acupuncturists do receive extensive training in their specific field and are qualified to provide this alternative treatment.  Once questioned by mainstream medical experts, acupuncture has gained greater acceptance and respect over the years.

How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture involves the insertion of tiny, hair-like needles along key areas in your body, known as meridians. This alternative therapy is done to get the chi, or energy, in your body moving again. The needles are often placed in seemingly unrelated areas of your body. For instance, for a headache, an acupuncturist might insert needles in your hands or ears.

While researchers don't fully understand how acupuncture works, it might aid the activity of your body's pain-killing chemicals. It also might affect how you release chemicals that regulate blood pressure and flow, according to NIH: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

What conditions may benefit from acupuncture?

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic back pain
  • Migraine headaches 
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Tendonitis and tennis elbow
  • Side effects of cancer treatment
  • Stress and anxiety

Visit for additional conditions that may benefit from acupuncture.

What are the benefits of acupuncture?

  • Relief from pain
  • Overall feeling of well being
  • May help alleviate anxiety

Who should NOT use acupuncture?

  • Pregnant women--the procedure may stimulate labor and result in premature delivery
  • Those with pacemakers—acupuncture may interfere with the proper functioning of the device
  • Individuals with bleeding disorders or those taking blood thinners

Are there any risks involved with acupuncture?

Most individuals report no side effects after receiving treatment. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, possible risks include:

  • Temporary soreness or bruising at needle sites
  • Organ injury—a rare complication
  • Infection—in case of reused needles. A licensed professional acupuncturist should use sterile, disposable needles.

Does acupuncture work?

While a variety of studies have been completed on the validity of acupuncture, findings remain uncertain. Some experts believe it does work; others feel there is no evidence to support the idea that acupuncture is beneficial.  Visit and for two different views on this alternative treatment.

Yet, experts do seem to agree that even if the procedure merely provides relief via a placebo effect, a perceived improvement in a condition, it should at least be considered. For individuals seeking relief from pain or a variety of other symptoms, especially when other treatments or procedures have been unsuccessful, acupuncture might just be the answer.

Is acupuncture painful?

When most individuals hear the word needle, they immediately associate it with pain. In the case of acupuncture, the needles are extremely small and thin, almost hair-like in appearance. Most patients who experience acupuncture indicate feeling no pain or discomfort with the procedure.

What is the cost of acupuncture?

An acupuncture session with a qualified licensed professional may run from $70-$100 in metropolitan areas. In most cases, unfortunately, health insurance still does not cover this alternative therapy. Most practitioners usually suggest at least two-three visits to receive maximum benefits.

Want to locate an acupuncturist in your area?


Kathy Rembisz 
Contributing Writer

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