Acupuncture needles are sterile and disposable, after being used one time they are discarded. The needles are very fine and inserted to various depths depending on the condition and area of the body. Acupuncture needles used for facial rejuvenation are inserted very shallow, just under the skin’s surface while needles used for sciatic pain are inserted deeper into the muscles of upper leg and buttocks in order to have best effect on the muscles there.
Acupuncture has been practiced in Asia for thousands of years but only in the past 40 years has it really spread to the Western world. The fact that it has been around for such a long time speaks to how effective it can be. It encourages the body to promote it’s own natural healing abilities and improve it’s functioning. Most scientific studies done on acupuncture show its effectiveness in decreasing pain (both chronic and acute).
In terms of the Western view acupuncture works due to a variety of scientific reasons, including: stimulating the release of pain-relieving endorphins, influencing the release of neurotransmitters, influencing the nervous system and stimulating circulation. Therefore many patients seek acupuncture care for cases of: post-operative recovery, muscle/tendon/ligament injuries, low back or neck pain, endometriosis and arthritis. Not only does acupuncture help to reduce the pain, it also aids in a speedier recovery process. In terms of its effects on the nervous systems, patients seek out treatment to aid in quitting addictions, aid stress reduction and management of anxiety disorders.
How Does it Work in Terms of Traditional Chinese Medicine View:
In almost all Eastern societies, cultures have a word for something that translates loosely as vital energy, in China the word is chi or qi, in Japan its ki, in India its prana. In terms of Chinese Medicine, qi is not just the vital energy that flows through body, in it’s densest form it actually makes up the body as well. There are 12 major meridians (or pathways) that the qi travels through our body in, plus 8 extra ones. The 12 major meridians are named after organs in our body, ex: lung, heart, liver, spleen, kidney, etc. The 8 extra ones do not translate as nicely from Chinese into English as much of their energetic function is in the name. Acupuncture points are found along these meridians and an acupuncturist will choose points to be used based on what organs they diagnose to be imbalanced. Disease is viewed as an imbalance of qi flow through the meridians or an imbalance of the organs energy/function. The main causes for the imbalances are: environment (climate), trauma, genetic weakness, and emotions (sadness, worry, fear, even too much happiness!).