Acupuncture can be traced back at least 2,500 years. It is based on the idea of patterns of energy flow through the body that are essential for health.
It is thought that acupuncture corrects any imbalances of flow at identifiable points close to the skin.
‘Acupuncture is a family of procedures involving stimulation of anatomical locations on or in the skin by a variety of techniques. There are a variety of approaches to diagnosis and treatment in acupuncture that incorporate medical traditions from China, Japan, Korea, and other countries. The most thoroughly studied mechanism of stimulation of acupuncture points employs penetration of the skin by thin, solid, metallic needles, which are manipulated manually or by electrical stimulation.’1
Is Acupuncture Effective?
Studies have shown that acupuncture is likely to help with:
- the prevention of migraine,
- the treatment of knee osteoarthritis.
Acupuncture is sometimes used for the treatment of low back pain, although studies at present are unable to ascertain the effectiveness of this. Guidelines from the British National Health Service now recommend not using acupuncture for low back pain with or without sciatica (leg pain).
It is not certain if acupuncture will help other conditions. There is some evidence to support the use of acupuncture for painful conditions, including headache and dental pain.
Is Acupuncture Safe?
Acupuncture is generally considered to be safe for most people when performed by a trained practitioner. However, any procedure that involves puncturing the skin with needles or manipulating the human body does carry some risk. Potential side effects of acupuncture can include:
- bleeding or bruising at puncture sites,
- infection at puncture sites,
- contact dermatitis,
- nerve damage,
- transmission of blood-borne diseases, such as hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS,
- puncture of organs.
Acupuncturists should always use sterile, disposable needles to prevent the transmission of blood-borne diseases and reduce the likelihood of infection at the puncture site.
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Related Modalities Acupuncture