A Quick Look at Acupuncture and Its Benefits

Alternative therapies such as acupuncture now sit alongside traditional medicine as valid choices for the relief of pain and discomfort. Devotees of acupuncture are adamant that the process of treatment is relatively painless and provides welcome relief. They describe a tingling or stinging sensation sometimes followed by a slight numbness, depending where the needle is inserted. It is used to treat a wide range of disorders, including chronic fatigue, depression, back pain, asthma, addictions and stress.

A Short History Lesson

It is believed that acupuncture originated in China over 5,000 years ago, and spread to Japan and Korea some time after. Knowledge of it arrived in Europe with Portuguese sailors in the 16th century but it did not become well known in the West until the 1970s. Acupuncture works on the principle that a vital energy called 'qi' flows uninterrupted through the body along twelve meridian lines, each associated with a particular body organ. Disease originates when the flow of 'qi' through the meridians becomes unbalanced.

There are hundreds of acupuncture points, many of which lie along these meridians. When the points are stimulated by the insertion of fine needles, balance is restored and the quality or quantity of the 'qi' can be normalised to help maintain health. Most of the needles used in Australia today are pre-sterilised, single use, disposable types, manufactured and packaged in a sterile environment into blister packs. The most commonly used needles are made of stainless steel and range in length from 8mm to 7cm. They are inserted from 2.3mm to 2.5cm into the body, depending on the location of the acupuncture point.

Acupuncture in Partnership with Other Therapies

Acupuncture in western society is often used in conjunction with other therapies. For example, massage therapy relaxes muscles and tendons. Combining this treatment with acupuncture reduces pain and speeds healing. Acupuncture can also be combined with physio to produce a similar result. Acupuncture assists in the process of strengthening the body by reducing swelling or spasms, improving blood circulation and stimulating the anti-inflammatory hormones in the body.

Some people receiving acupuncture treatment have described it as being painful but the general consensus is that everyone's pain threshold is different and what some people think of as painful is barely perceptible to others. What can be expected at a first time treatment is a mild sting if anything at all. Any discomfort felt is usually a result of the practitioner stimulating the acupuncture point by flicking or tapping the needle for a second or two which is part of the process.

The mild discomfort is a small price to pay for the feeling of calm and general wellbeing that people report during a treatment session. Testimonials from those who have been helped through acupuncture detail relief from chronic pain, lowered levels of depression, improved concentration and even the disappearance of cold sores. People need to try acupuncture for themselves so they can make an objective assessment.

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