Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practice that is used to treat both pain and dysfunction in the body.
The origins of acupuncture are deeply rooted in China and did not become widely known in the U.S. until 1971, when diplomatic relations between China and America were relaxed.
Acupuncture utilizes hair-thin needles, placed in the skin in various locations to relieve pain or affect body parts. Early Chinese physicians discovered there is an energy network transversing just below the surface of the skin which communicates with the exterior to the internal organs and structures at over 1,000 “acupoints" on the body. This energy works in harmony with the body’s circulatory, nervous, muscular, digestive, genitourinary, and all other systems in the body. When this vital energy becomes blocked or weakened, an effect in a body system or anatomic location becomes evident. Stimulation of one or a combination of key acupoints on the body may restore harmony to the affected area.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the human body’s energy flow courses over 12 main meridians, or channels, that are normally well-balanced. If a disruption of the energy flow occurs, the system becomes imbalanced, leading to pain or other physical symptoms.
Acupuncture aims to restore normalcy to the body’s energy balance, by working on the acupoints located on the 12 meridians. This is accomplished by a variety of means, needles being just one.
You’d think inserting a needle into the skin is painful, but acupuncture needles aren’t like hypodermic needles or even sewing needles. They are as thin as a strand of hair!
Some have described the feeling as “less than a mosquito bite.” When the needle is inserted, the energy of the meridians is contacted, and the sensation is felt as mild to moderate heaviness or tingling.
Acupuncture needles aren’t the only way to balance the body’s energy. Electronic and laser stimulation can be equally as effective. There is also a type of needle that is a tapping needle that does not pierce the skin. Using a teishein needle is like tapping a ballpoint pen on the surface of the skin. Thumb pressure is another effective modality.
At the start of your acupuncture appointment, the practitioner will do a pulse diagnosis. They’ll feel your pulse to determine the balance of the 12 meridians of your body.
This ancient method of diagnosis is perhaps a cornerstone of the acupuncture examination. Nowadays, a modern evaluation, “electro meridian imaging (EMI)" is also used to do a pulse diagnosis. The practitioner uses a painless electronic pain over the skin, over specific acupuoints. This sensitive metering device measures the electro potential of the acupoint.
Many physicians use applied kinesiology, which is an examination involving testing certain muscles and correlating them to the associated meridian. Case history and consultation play a vital role in determining abnormalities, as does simple palpation over specific body parts.
The term "meridian therapy" is the accepted name employed by those who practice the principle of acupuncture with or without the use of penetrating needles.
Acupuncture is a principle, not a technique. Therefore, there are many ways to stimulate the acupoint other than a needle, just as there are many different strokes used in swimming. Many practitioners use electronic stimulation, laser beam, or pressure massage to treat the acupoint. The principle of acupuncture does not change, only the technique.