What is acupuncture, and why should I try it?

Pain Edition

What is acupuncture, and why should I try it? Pain Edition

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice where long, thin needles are inserted into various acupuncture points on the body. Now, please don’t be put off by the mention of long, thin needles. Acupuncture needles are nothing like those you may be familiar with – the ones you dread when told you need an injection. The acupuncture doctors flick the needles in with consummate skill, and the needles are so thin you barely feel them.

Acupuncture doctors spend years learning the various points and how they operate to help patients with various health problems. Acupuncture promotes relaxation and encourages a correct flow of energy through the body, referred to by the Chinese as Qi or Chi. When the energy flow is blocked, acupuncture can restore the body to balance and relieve pain.

At 39, I leaned over a desk to sign in at work and couldn’t straighten up. I’d never had a back problem before, but all of a sudden, I was walking like I would imagine an 80-year-old with back issues would walk… bent over. I immediately called an acupuncture doctor.

At my appointment, he asked questions and examined my back to feel where the problem was as I lay face down on the bed. And then out came the needles. I didn’t look because I hate needles. There was a flick here and there, and then he attached the electrodes of a special electroacupuncture machine to the multiple needles in my back, to allow the electrical current to flow. It was almost like having a massage – I felt relaxed and sleepy. I was definitely not in any pain from the super thin needles. After my session, I felt a lot better, but not 100%. He advised me to return for more treatment if my back didn’t improve. I went to bed and woke up in the morning perfectly fine, and I have never had a back issue again. That was nearly 30 years ago.

Acupuncture can work for back pain, osteoarthritic pain, muscle cramping, sciatica, other muscular-skeletal issues, neurological pain, migraines, post-operative pain, neck pain, and more. According to this NIH report covering the results of twenty studies on acupuncture  as a treatment for various types of pain, the effects of acupuncture lasted for an entire year after treatment, aside from neck pain, where the relief was shorter.

When you consult a qualified acupuncture doctor, you will be advised on a course of treatment. If you have been living with pain for a long time, then obviously, it will take more sessions to treat the issue. You may need between one and two sessions a week for a few weeks. Because traditional Chinese medicine doctors treat the body holistically, you may also be advised to make some lifestyle changes and be given some herbal medicine in addition to the acupuncture treatments. Sometimes moxibustion which consists of burning herbs in proximity to the treatment site helps. My advice is to book your appointment as you will feel wonderful afterward.