Acupuncture is an Eastern medicine treatment that has been practiced for at least 3,000 years. This approach involves the insertion of tiny needles in specific positions across the body.
Many people are concerned that acupuncture needles will hurt. This concern is very understandable since most patients have previously only been exposed to hypodermic needles (shots) that definitely do hurt. As opposed to those larger, standard needles, in acupuncture we use needles that are exceptionally thin and fine. Some patients feel a sensation for a few seconds when the needle is placed, but we guarantee that every patient will be comfortable during the treatment. In fact, it is not uncommon for a patient to fall asleep on the treatment table!
Acupuncture uses a number of the body’s different healing mechanisms to treat a wide variety of pain conditions and internal diseases. When a needle is inserted, it stimulates the release of powerful pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory substances from the brain. It also changes the way the brain responds to pain and can modify internal organ function to treat many complex diseases. In addition, acupuncture induces local effects, including relaxation of contracted muscles and an increase in blood circulation.
The Eastern medicine approach to a medical problem is very different from that of Western medicine. Eastern medicine takes into account the wonderful complexity and uniqueness of each individual. Instead of being a system of medicine that merely treats the symptoms, as is common in Western medicine, acupuncture is a patient-centered system where you are seen and treated as an individual—a whole person.
Though acupuncture is the most common method we use in our office, some people, including children, prefer needleless treatments. This type of treatment may include acupressure with a tool that does not penetrate the skin.
Moxibustion (moxa) is the use of an herb for the treatment of some forms of pain, including arthritis or when there is deficiency or weakness of the constitution, as when a patient gets sick often or has chronic low energy or continually cold hands and feet.
The moxa herb comes in several forms, such as cigar shaped or in small cones. It is lit and held over an acupuncture point or area of pain to warm the area. Some forms of moxa have a distinct smell when burned. The healing properties of moxa come from the heat generated as well as the effect of the herb on blood circulation and the immune system.
Moxa can be used by the acupuncturist in the clinic and, with proper instruction, by the patient at home.
Though acupuncture is the most common method used by Eastern medicine practitioners—and most people agree that the needles are not at all scary or painful—some people, including children, prefer needless treatments. This type of treatment may include acupressure with a tool that does not penetrate the skin, as well as cupping, gua sha, moxa, and/or massage.