Relieve Pain and Help Your Body Heal
Acupuncture treats pain and disease by opening up the natural energy pathways in your body. It is a highly effective practice that assists in healing and recovery from a wide range of issues, from sinus problems to stress-related illness. Most patients find the experience to be very relaxing and restorative.
Q. What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a safe and effective healing art first practiced in China thousands of years ago.
The central focus of Chinese medicine is the life force, or energy, known as qi (pronounced “chee”) that flows through energy pathways in the body, called meridians. Each meridian corresponds to an organ or group of organs that governs specific bodily functions. To restore balance to the qi, an acupuncturist inserts extremely slim needles at points along the meridians. The needles unblock obstructions and re-establish regular, healthy energy flow through the meridians.
In 1997, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) formally recognized acupuncture as a safe and effective mainstream medicine healing option for treating a range of health conditions. While awareness of acupuncture is growing, many conventional physicians are still unfamiliar with both the theory and practice of acupuncture.
Q. What Conditions are Treated Using Acupuncture?
At Vital Life Health Alternatives, we provide traditional Chinese acupuncture for a variety of conditions. Some of the most common include:
- Chronic pain
- Mental-emotional imbalances
- Sinus problems
- Gynecological conditions
- Overactive and underactive immune conditions
- Respiratory conditions
- Focus and cognitive problems
- Digestive disturbances
- Stress-related illnesses
- Reproductive problems
- Overall well-being improvement
Q. How is Acupuncture Performed?
Generally, people find an acupuncture treatment to be a relaxing experience, especially once any initial concerns about being treated with needles are resolved.
Your acupuncturist will insert extremely thin, sterile needles into your skin at points along the meridians. It is important to understand that the needles are barely big enough to be felt. They range in width from approximately .14 mm to .30 mm and in length from 15 mm (.5 inch) to 75 mm (3 inches). The most commonly used needle is a 25 mm (1 inch) .25 mm width needle. Generally, they are inserted about 1-3 mm into the body. With some techniques, the needles are inserted quickly and removed immediately. In others, they are left in for 10 – 45 minutes while you rest.
Your treatment may consist of points on the front and back of your body, so your practitioner may insert needles on the front, let you rest for awhile. Then you will turn over and your practitioner will continue the treatment on your back. Sometimes the needle will be rotated slightly until you feel a heavy or distended feeling, which indicates the arrival of qi. The sensation you feel is fairly minimal and it is well tolerated by most people. Most people feel fairly relaxed during treatment, and many even fall asleep.
Q. When Will I Feel Relief?
Because each patient is unique and the conditions for which acupuncture is used vary widely, it is not possible to provide a definitive, all-purpose prediction of when relief will begin. You may feel some change in your condition immediately or within the first two or three treatments. If you have a more serious or difficult condition, you may need months of treatment before a significant change occurs. Because energy flow will be improved across your body, you may even experience broad changes in several areas after receiving acupuncture for a specific complaint.
If you do not notice an immediate change, it does not mean that acupuncture is not helping you. The changes can be subtle and appear slowly as the entire body begins to rebalance. Your practitioner will be able to gauge the treatments’ effectiveness through precise questioning and by monitoring changes in your tongue and pulse.
Important Things to Remember on the Day of Treatment
Wear loose, comfortable clothing or use a gown.
Be sure to have eaten something within fours before a treatment.
Do not perform any strenuous physical exercise two hours before or after a treatment.
It is best to avoid alcohol within 24 hours of a treatment.
Prognosis and Treatment Plans
A definitive prognosis can be difficult to formulate immediately, but after two or three sessions, your acupuncturist should have a good understanding of your condition and be able to offer you a reasonable idea of how many treatments you will need. Depending on the situation, it can take more visits than this to resolve the issue.
Treatments can be modified and improved over time to maximize effectiveness. As part of your overall treatment plan, your acupuncturist may recommend lifestyle and dietary changes to help you rebalance your body and mind.
For How Long Will I Need Treatment?
A general rule of thumb is that one month of treatment is needed for every year a condition has been active. For example, if you have had a condition for five years, you may need approximately five months of treatment to realize a full resolution. In the case of acute back pain, you may experience immediate relief of the acute pain but need further treatments to take care of the underlying factors which led to the acute episode.
Acute conditions respond well to more frequent visits (three to five times per week) and chronic conditions respond well from two times per week to two times per month. Maintenance and general well-being protocols range from once per week to seasonal, depending on your lifestyle and schedule.
There are several variations in acupuncture treatment that may be used, depending on the condition being treated, including:
Electro-acupuncture: acupuncture needles are stimulated with an electric charge delivered from a machine. This is used often and effectively in patients dealing with pain.
Moxibustion: the burning of an herb – Artemesia Vulgaris – either on the top of a needle or on the skin directly. This is used often in patients who are dealing with cold or stagnant conditions such as certain types of abdominal cramps.
Cupping: the use of glass or plastic cups that are placed on the body with suction to help remove toxins and muscle tension in patients experiencing pain and/or immune issues.
Tuina: a type of massage that targets the meridians and acupuncture points, used for a variety of conditions.
Your practitioner can provide further information about these therapies.