Acupuncture – or dry needling – has long been used in China for diagnosis and treatment of a range of different ailments, dating back an impressive 3,000 years or so! As medical practices go, that’s quite a feat!
Its first documented use can be found in the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, which dates all the way back to 100 BCE… and since then, it’s gone on to be adopted into western medicine as well, helping people from all walks of life with conditions like migraines, hiccups, chronic pain, tension headaches, jaw pain, joint and muscle pain, post-surgery nausea and so on.
What does acupuncture involve?
It can be a little daunting to go to your first acupuncture appointment. After all, someone will be sticking needles into your body! But there’s really nothing to worry about, with a typical session usually lasting from 20 minutes to an hour, with courses of treatment generally involving a series of sessions depending on what the problem is.
Your practitioner will insert little needles into specific parts of your body, known as acupuncture points. The needles themselves are very fine and only a couple of centimetres long and your clinician may insert them just beneath the skin or go deeper so they reach the muscle.
Once the needles are in position, they’re left in place for a certain amount of time, whether that’s just a couple of minutes or up to half an hour. You shouldn’t experience any real pain during your session, although you may feel a little tingling here or there, or perhaps a dull ache. If you do feel any significant pain, make sure you let your therapist know immediately.
In terms of side-effects, you may experience bleeding or bruising at the needle insertion site, drowsiness, nausea, or feeling dizzy and faint, but these symptoms are usually mild and short lived.
How does acupuncture relieve pain?
Traditional Chinese acupuncture works on the principle that our energy or life force (known as Qi) flows through our bodies in channels called meridians. It’s thought that when the Qi doesn’t flow freely through these channels it can result in illness and pain.
By using acupuncture techniques, it’s thought that the flow of Qi can be restored… and so too can your general health.
Where pain management is concerned, the use of the needles helps the body to release chemicals like endorphins, which serve as excellent natural painkillers, as well as neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that control your nerve impulses.
The number of treatments you’ll need will depend on your condition, how severe it is and how well your body responds. Some people go for acupuncture once a week, while others go less regularly, but your acupuncturist will help you determine the right schedule for you.
You may also want to consider going for electroacupuncture and low level laser therapy, which has been found to be effective in treating nerve pain, as well as cancer pain and deep abdominal pain.
If you’d like to find out more about this treatment and its various benefits, get in touch with the MACS Clinic team today to see how we can help.