09 Jan What is Acupuncture? What can it help with?
Throughout school and now a graduate awaiting to open my own practice, I get asked this question a lot. Not only what is acupuncture, but also what is the difference between acupuncture and dry needling. If you were wondering these same questions, today is your lucky day! 😊
Acupuncture is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
According to the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) states that “TCM originated in ancient China and has evolved over thousands of years. TCM practitioners use herbal medicines and various mind and body practices, such as acupuncture and tai chi, to treat or prevent health problems.
Acupuncture is a technique in which practitioners stimulate specific points on the body – most often by inserting thin needles through the skin.” That is the formal and simple explanation of acupuncture and TCM. I like to take it one step further.
Acupuncture is a technique that uses very thin needles to stimulate specific points on the body.
There are many other modalities that fall under TCM that we can use along with or instead of acupuncture including acupressure, cupping, moxibustion, and tui na (Chinese massage) to help stimulate those acupuncture points. I will explain what the other modalities are in future posts.
What Traditional Chinese Medicine does is help bring your body into balance so that it can heal itself. The body is an amazing thing and it likes to be healthy and in balance. For example, look what happens when you cut yourself. Your body kicks into action to create a clot to stop you from bleeding to death, then a scab to protect the cut from infection while it heals from the inside out. AMAZING!!!!
Now for the other question – the difference between dry needling and acupuncture.
First a little background on dry needling. Dry needling first started as “wet” needling in that a needle was inserted directly into the trigger point of the dysfunctional muscle and a solution (saline, analgesics, corticosteroids, etc) was injected. This started in the early 1940’s.
In 1979 a study was performed emphasizing just the “needle effect” and was found to be just as beneficial as injecting. The term “dry needling” was born and means there is no solution injected into the trigger point of the muscle. The practitioners then switched to a fine filament needle for dry needling instead of a hollow hypodermic needle used for injections.
Now if you have ever had an acupuncture treatment for pain or tight muscles you may have noticed that needles may or may not have been placed in the trigger points of the dysfunctional muscle but also that needles were placed in your arms, feet and lower legs. Acupuncture uses 12 meridians that run through your body to help address an issue.
Acupuncture identifies a “root” cause to treat to help lessen and keep the pain away. Acupuncture points throughout the body are used to help address other underlying issues and not just treat the sore, tight muscle.
One example of this would be dysfunctional muscle elsewhere in the body that is not causing you pain is actually the culprit behind the pain you are feeling. If that seems a little hard to digest or you would like a better understanding this I suggest you watch the attached video about anatomy trains (warning: cadavers are shown in the video).
As you watch the video you will notice that one of the anatomy trains links the muscle from the calf all the way up to the back of the head. SO the headache you are having in the back of your head or the tight, painful muscles in your upper back may be from a tight calf muscle that is pulling on all the muscles between there and your head.
Wondering if acupuncture treats more than just pain?
Wondering if acupuncture can help you. You bet it can!!! Acupuncture and TCM can help address many issues including allergies, adverse reactions to chemo and/or radiation, morning sickness, anxiety/depression, irregular or painful menses, infertility, digestive issues including diarrhea or constipation, addictions, emotional healing, and many, many more things.
There are even modalities I can suggest to you to stay healthy or help you kick that cold or flu quicker if you get sick. If you are wondering if I can help you, please contact me and we can talk about what you would like to work on and how long I would expect for it to take to see some improvement or to go away completely.
In Joy and Health