What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture explained by Denver, Golden, Aurora, Boulder, Broomfield, Jefferson, and Littleton Colorado’s top pain doctors
Acupuncture is a treatment approach that originated from traditional Chinese medicine. The technique entails inserting needles in areas of the body where discomfort and pain is experienced as well as other regions that may be responsible for the pain. The pattern in which the needles are strategically placed leads to the reduction of pain, stiffness, muscle spasms, and inflammation.
Acupuncture also causes the body to release endorphins, which are hormones that decrease pain sensations. Patients who have not experienced pain relief from conventional treatments or who want to avoid undergoing invasive procedures and prescription medications may decide to try acupuncture. For some people, this type of therapy is more effective than other commonly used treatments.
How is Acupuncture Performed?
Several forms of acupuncture have been established which include:
- Traditional acupuncture that utilizes needles
- Electroacupuncture that uses electrical pads or electrically charged needles
- Laser acupuncture that involves the use of laser beams
- Manual acupuncture that involves the use of the fingers
Traditional acupuncture involves strategically placing needles into the skin at specific regions on the body. This process releases hormones that reduce the sensation of pain and enhance circulation. Electroacupuncture is similar to the traditional form in that it entails placing electrical pads or electrically charged needles on specific areas of the body and then delivering small bursts of current to those regions. This approach appears to be slightly better at relieving pain than traditional acupuncture.
Laser acupuncture involves muscle stimulation and this method leads to shorter recovery periods for some patients by enhancing circulation. It can also strengthen damaged muscle tissue. Manual acupuncture entails using the fingers instead of traditional needles, electrical needles, or lasers.
If acupuncture is performed by a certified professional, the risks that are associated with this treatment approach are generally quite low. However, minor bruising, bleeding, or soreness at the site of needle insertion are potential side effects of traditional acupuncture. Mild skin irritation may also develop due to electroacupuncture. In some cases, more serious risks such as an injury to vital organs may occur if the needles are placed too deep or in the wrong position. Furthermore, if non-sterile needles are utilized, a patient may develop an infection.
Similarly, laser acupuncture should be performed by a trained professional and the laser beams should be set to the following parameters:
- For standard lasers: 5 to 500 mW
- For red laser beams: 600 to 700 nm
- For near infrared laser beams: 800 to 1000 nm
Higher settings can cause the skin to burn. In addition, acupuncture is not recommended for pregnant women and individuals who have a pacemaker or bleeding disorder. However, acupuncture can be more effective than conventional treatments despite the risks.
Conditions Related To Acupuncture
Acupuncture can be used to treat the following conditions:
- Hip and leg pain
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Joint pain
- Carpel tunnel syndrome
- Neck pain
- Knee pain
- Back pain
- Shoulder pain
Peripheral neuropathy is characterized as damaged nerves that cause sensory and motor problems. It is often hard to identify the cause of neuropathy and this makes the condition difficult to treat. Acupuncture is effective at treating neuropathy because it enhances nerve conduction, which can restore motor and sensory functions.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is described as pain, numbness, and tingling in the wrists and hands as well as trouble using the hands for regular activity (e.g. lifting or typing). This common condition can be treated with acupuncture, and electroacupuncture is especially useful at reducing symptoms that are associated with mild and moderate cases.
Fibromyalgia is a condition that is characterized by musculoskeletal problems, stiffness, chronic fatigue, sleep disturbances, decreased physical activity, and a reduced quality of life. Electroacupuncture and manual acupuncture are both commonly used treatments for fibromyalgia, but electroacupuncture effectively reduces stiffness and pain while improving sleep. Some fibromyalgia and arthritis patients have also reported that traditional needle acupuncture alleviated all of their symptoms.
Acupuncture is also effective at treating neck, shoulder, back, knee, hip, and joint pain by increasing oxygen and fluid circulation in damaged tissue, which reduces the recovery period and increases muscle strength.
Headaches are often caused by factors such as tension, stress, or chronic pain that develops as a result of an underlying condition. By reducing chronic pain, acupuncture has the ability to simultaneously treat headaches. The diversity of effective acupuncture treatments is causing this therapeutic approach to become quite popular.
Acupuncture is an alternative treatment method for pain that involves placing needles in certain areas of the body. This process has the ability to release pain relieving hormones, decrease muscle damage and stiffness, and reduce recovery time in some patients. Several types of acupuncture have been developed over the years and each method is effective at relieving pain by improving circulation at the inflamed or injured area.
Various conditions can be treated with acupuncture and, if the procedure is performed by a trained professional, the risks are minimal. When performed correctly, acupuncture may be more effective at relieving painful conditions than conventional treatments.
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