Acupuncture is an ancient technique used to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue. The practice has traditionally been used to treat pain, but acupuncture methods may also be able to provide other health benefits as well. Here’s a look into what the needle-based approach might be able to do for you.
What positive effects can acupuncture have?
Promoting self-healing and pain relief
The point of acupuncture is to stimulate the body’s natural painkillers in order to help the body heal itself. In addition to using needles to stimulate specific points on the body, acupuncture specialists may also use a combination of pressure, massage, heat, electrical stimulation and herbal treatments to increase the desired results.
Among the pain-related conditions commonly treated by acupuncture are fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, myofascial pain, low back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain and even dental discomfort.
Treating digestive and abdominal problems
Acupuncture can be used to treat nausea, vomiting and even menstrual cramps. Even though digestive problems can be caused by all sorts of factors, acupuncture may be able to effectively minimize the symptoms regardless of whether they are initiated by pregnancy, chemotherapy, post-surgery or other circumstances.
Everyone interested in acupuncture should locate a reputable specialist for treatment, but pregnant women looking to treat morning sickness with acupuncture may be particularly sensitive to the office environment and techniques used so do your research and seek for a recommendation that you can trust. Because some types of acupuncture may actually increase your likelihood for going into labor prematurely, extreme caution should be taken when looking into treatments.
Improving cardiovascular health
Acupuncture stimulates the body and increases blood flow, helping improve your circulation and vascular functioning. The needle-based practice may also be able to help with hypertension, the condition of having high blood pressure, and the prevention of diabetes.
Some individuals struggling with obesity also visit an acupuncturist to help stimulate their cardiovascular and digestive systems in order to promote proper functioning. As part of a healthy lifestyle which also includes eating right and exercising regularly, acupuncture may be able to help improve your circumstances and limit your risks of heart disease and other related conditions.
Aiding in a variety of treatment programs
Whether you’re in the midst of stroke rehabilitation, drug addiction withdrawals or labor, acupuncture may be part of a recommended treatment plan for your particular situation. Consult an acupuncturist and any other medical professionals you might be presently working with to see what role acupuncture could be playing in your pursuit of wellness.
Whether you’re dealing with any number of conditions like insomnia, depression, asthma, vascular dementia or even infertility, the ancient self-healing practice may be able to help. When facing serious medical conditions, however, acupuncture may not be an effective stand-alone treatment so be sure to visit additional healthcare professionals as needed in order to properly address your situation.
What are the risks of getting acupuncture?
You may feel sensations of pain and discomfort
Although many people feel no pain, or only minimal levels of discomfort, during the process of stimulating various points across the body, some individuals do feel negative sensations because of the needles. Minor bleeding or bruising can result and some patients feel sore after their treatment is over.
When other simulation methods are also used during the treatment process, such as pressure and massage, patients may experience additional discomfort from those methods depending on their sensitivities and overall health. In extreme cases, organ injury is actually possible when an inexperienced practitioner pushes in a needle further than they should.
You may feel anxious about the process
Even when acupuncture treatments don’t cause physical pain, some individuals can experience anxiety from the process of resting on a treatment table with needles inserted in various sites on their bodies. Many people are able to relax during a visit, but there are some individuals who mentally and emotionally struggle through the whole appointment.
If you’re concerned about the process, express your hesitations to your acupuncturist during your initial consultation. Feel free to share your worries and to schedule in treatments at your own pace. The idea of acupuncture definitely isn’t for everyone and there’s no reason to feel bad if this style of medicine doesn’t suit your personality.
Based on the office’s history and policies, there may be safety concerns
Only visit acupuncturists who are licensed to practice in your state. Inspect the office before you ever receive treatment and inquire about the specialist’s policies. Acupuncture needles should be thrown away after each treatment and never used on multiple patients; otherwise the risk of infections and transferable diseases increase. Make sure that your acupuncturist has a good reputation and that you feel comfortable with the setting and course of treatment. If you have any hesitations about a specific office or a particular acupuncturist, move on and find a better option.
Your recommended treatment plan may require more visits than you expected
On your first visit, an acupuncturist will generally review your situation and identify a possible number of treatments in order to effectively address your specific condition. However, the number of treatments you need and how often you need them can differ from person to person.
Depending on your medical condition and your body’s response to treatments, your circumstances may dictate coming in on a weekly or biweekly basis for a duration of several months. Even when problems are less severe, patients can still expect to schedule in somewhere around ten visits. If you’re thinking that one office visit will have your problem solved for good, you may be in for some disappointment.
Your treatment plan may not be covered by your health insurance
Although acupuncture is covered by many plans, your particular health insurance setup may not help pay for your acupuncture visits. The price per treatment varies from office to office, but individuals can expect to pay around $100 or more per visit.
You may not be a recommended candidate for treatment
If you have a pacemaker, have a bleeding disorder or are on blood thinners, acupuncture may not be a good idea for you. Check with your doctor to discuss the idea and, if needed, avoid going in for any sort of acupuncture treatment.