According to Chinese Medicine theories, the meridian system is a network of energetic pathways which connects internal organs with body tissues and muscles. Qi (or life force) circulates within the meridians. Disease occurs when Qi flow is obstructed or insufficient to the point of affecting bodily functions. By inserting needles at acupoints (strategic locations where meridian Qi accumulates), disease-causing blockages and imbalances are corrected and equilibrium is restored.
Modern science sees acupuncture needles as physical stimulus to the brain. Depending on the conditions being treated, the brain responded by way of promoting or suppressing the release of biochemicals, neurotransmitters and hormones. This explains the pain and stress relief effects of acupuncture. By extension, other bodily and nervous malfunctions affecting sleep, appetite, nerve impulses, cravings and temperature control can be regulated through acupuncture.
The stimulation on meridian Qi causes integrated therapeutic effect benefiting various systems of the body. Some conditions commonly treated by acupuncture are:
· Pain, both acute and chronic
- Headache, migraine, sciatica, frozen shoulder, arthritis, rheumatism, cervical spondylopathy, knee pain, tennis elbow, lower back pain, tendonitis, temporal-mandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome, whiplash etc.
· Nervous system disorders
- Belle’s palsy, neuralgia, post-stroke paralysis, depression, anxiety, palpitation etc.
· Digestive disorders
- Intestinal wind, stomach ulcers, gastritis, heartburn, indigestion, irritable bowels, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation etc.
· Ear, nose, throat and respiratory disorders
- Hayfever, rhinitis, sinusitis, asthma, shortness of breath etc.
· Circulatory disorders
- Palpitation, angina, edema, numbess and tingling sensations etc.
· Urinary and reproductive disorders
- Bed-wetting, cystitis, hot flushes, period pain, impotence, pelvic inflammation etc.
Acupuncture should not be painful. Sometimes there is a tingling sensation when needles are being inserted. To achieve De Qi (the arrival of Qi), the physician might then manipulate some points using certain techniques. At this point, energetic sensations usually begin settling in. Generally described as distention, numbness or heaviness, these sensations are absolutely normal and should be distinguished from pain. In fact, most patients reported feeling relaxed, pleasant and calm during needle retention.
Acupuncture needles are sterile and disposed of after single use. The risk of infection or cross contamination is almost nil. The needles are hair-thin, solid with smooth round tips, designed to gently edge tissue aside during insertion. Contrary to the belief of some people, the possibility of nerve damage resulting from acupuncture is extremely rare. In fact, one of the common uses of acupuncture is in treating neuropathy and nerve-related pain. Some patients do continue feeling odd even after needles are removed. These flow-on energetic sensations should be distinguished from signs of nerve damage. Performed by qualified acupuncturist using appropriate needling techniques, acupuncture is very safe and reliable.
Genuine side effects of acupuncture are rarely seen. Some patients feel light-headed, sleepy and nausea after acupuncture. These short-lived feelings are not side effects, and should be seen as signs of energetic equilibrium being shifted. In some cases, patients mistakenly believe they are experiencing a worsening of original symptoms after an acupuncture session. These disturbing signs could be increased inflammation, more severe flu symptoms, extreme fatigue, or even appearance of sore spots previously unknown of. If one understands that acupuncture helps the body to fight-off disease through stimulating immune response, rather than masking symptoms, then these flare-up responses are not side effects but signs of healing taking place.
Drinking plenty of water and taking enough rest are essential self-care measures after an acupuncture session.
The frequency of acupuncture sessions depend on the nature of condition being treated and the vitality of the patient. An acute condition generally shows certain degree of relief after 2 to 3 sessions performed within days. Some painful condition necessitates daily acupuncture over a treatment course provided that the patient has a robust constitution. Chronic conditions takes months or years to develop, and generally require anywhere between 8 to 12 weekly or twice-weekly sessions before signs of improvement are apparent. Degenerative conditions and repetitive strained injuries need regular maintenance sessions once acute symptoms are relieved.
Bear in mind that acupuncture is a natural medicine which helps the body making positive changes to restore equilibrium. One should not expect dramatic effect immediately. Generally a sense of energy boost and emotional calmness are experienced after 1 to 2 sessions.
Being well-prepared will greatly reduce uncomfortable feelings during and after an acupuncture session. A light-meal 1 to 2 hours before treatment prevents nausea and dizziness. Avoid alcohol before and after treatment to prevent risk of shock. Wear loose and comfortable clothing not only ensure relaxed resting, but also provide easy access to points especially those above knees and around elbows.
The combination of acupuncture treatment and Chinese herbal medicine is highly recommended because the synergy itself creates better and sustainable clinical results. The advantages of combined therapies using both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are:
- Time saving and cost-effectiveness:
To bring the symptoms of acute and sub-acute illnesses under control, frequent and regular treatments need to be administered within a short time frame. The objective is to effect rapid relief to pain and discomfort, also prevent development of complications or the progression into chronic health disorders.
Acupuncture works by bringing blood flow to the painful areas and restoring the balance of bodily functions. The treatment outcome of acupuncture is the cumulative effect of a series of regular treatments. In China, patients attend the acupuncture clinic multiple times per week during the active treatment phase of an illness. However, this type of treatment program is not practical in the Australian clinical setting.
Expedited healing through concentrated treatments can be achieved by receiving regular acupuncture treatments at the clinic, combined with the taking of herbal medicine at home during the interval between acupuncture treatments. Less visits to the clinic means saving of time, and a shorter course of treatments brings about cost-effectiveness.
- Better management to provided targeted treatment approach
- – complement each other
- Complicated and chronic pathology need both modalities to see effect.