The Acupuncture Breakdown Always wanted to be a human pincushion? No? Good, because that’s not really what acupuncture is all about. For those new to the therapy (especially skeptics and needle-phobic friends), acupuncture can seem intimidating and weirdly stressful. Is it painful? Is it invasive? That’s actually the opposite of what this holistic practice is trying to accomplish. Let’s take a look at this oft-misunderstood therapy’s balance-oriented approach to wellness.

Where Did it Come From?

As one of the most well-known practices in Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture has been around for an estimated 3,000 years—since the Han Dynasty. The idea behind the therapy is that the universe contains two opposing forces in Yin and Yang, and when those forces are in balance, the body is at optimal wellness. Energy, called “qi” flows through the body along specific pathways called “meridians.” If the energy is blocked, it can lead to pain, lack in functionality and illness or disease.

What’s With the Needles?

So, where do the needles factor in? In order to stimulate the body and remove these energy blocks, thin needles are inserted into the skin at “acupoints” to remove disruptions and promote healing. The acupoints, which usually have a high concentration of nerve endings, mast cells, lymphatics and capillaries, trigger biochemical and physiological changes to the body. Basically, it sets off a chain reaction between the brain, hormones and glands, jump-starting bodily processes. It can also be a great way of releasing endorphins and serotonin, which regulate mood and help you deal with pain.

The Acupuncture Breakdown

Speaking of pain… does it hurt? To put it into perspective, although needle sizes may vary, they’re usually smaller than a single follicle of hair. And if the needles used during the therapy are of a larger variety, they’re still incredibly small—nothing like the syringe needle you’re thinking about. Under the watchful eye of a good acupuncturist, the practice is perfectly safe and pain-free.

How Can it Help?

So how do “qi” and “meridian” translate into Western medicine? Honestly, no one is 100 percent sure. The benefits and effects of acupuncture are only beginning to be measured and understood. Research suggests acupuncture is valuable for certain pain conditions, the most common being:

  • Low back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Facial pain (think TMJ disorders)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sciatica
  • Sprain
  • Knee pain

While we can’t say for certain whether or not acupuncture is right for you, it can be a viable treatment option for some. If you are considering giving it a go, we highly recommend sticking to your current chiropractic care treatment and using acupuncture as a complementary treatment. Chiropractic is the only care option that removes subluxations, misalignments, in your spine—which is integral to spinal health, as well as overall health. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you’re unsure or if you have any further questions.