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A Quick-Start Guide to Acupuncture

The first time I resourced to acupuncture as a way to find some relief from chronic pain my neck and back were so inflamed that you could actually see a hump on my upper back right over my shoulders and it had so much fluid it felt squishy to the touch. Being so uncomfortable kept me up at night, and I was paying the price for that during the day. Feeling extremely tired, and unable to focus, I knew I needed help. A colleague who's dad is a chiropractor and acupuncture practitioner made a complementary appointment for me to try acupuncture as a way to find some relief. I did not know what to expect, and the thought of being poked with tiny needles did not excite me at all. So, i had to tell myself, "self, you are pretty miserable right now, so what do you have to lose".

I had to admit, I was a little bit nervous when I arrived to their office, but my colleague's mother was the office manager and she pleasantly put me at ease explaining the next steps as she gave me a tour of their beautiful facility and led me to a room to change into a comfortable bathrobe. After completing some paperwork and answering some questions about how I was feeling, the doctor asked me to lay down on my belly and began to insert little needles on my neck, shoulders arms and back. The needles did not feel like a injection or a sharp poke, it was more like a ticklish prick. The next thing I knew, I was waking up in a puddle of sweat that soaked the paper placed on the table I was laying on. . The acupuncture treatment, had relaxed me so much, I fell asleep, (I had not slept that hard and comfortable in weeks), it shocked me to see the amount of fluids and how my body was able to get rid off.

Getting rid of the excess fluids definitely helped me feel better. and gave me confidence in the process. Sadly, on top of moving from the area, life kept me busy and I did not follow through with more treatments. I left a few years go by after my first experience with acupuncture. I've recently found another trusted acupuncture practitioner in my area. Although my medical insurance does not cover the cost, this office has affordable prices and I rather invest on healing than other stuff bound to end up in the garbage at some point. This time, I was more prepared, I had just been ordered to get some blood work, X Rays and MRI done and I took all my results to the acupuncture physician. She reviewed my results and placed the needles all over my body according to the meridians that needed balancing. This time I did not fall asleep, I fell into a deep state of relaxation instead. I felt like little short electric shocks, (not painful, just weird) through my legs and lower back. Later, I told the doctor what I had felt, "when the lymphatic system is stagnant, toxins liger in the body and that's what it feels when is getting unclogged", she explained. She completed my treatment with some infrared light and a quick cupping session on my lower back and legs. I felt so good after that, It was like my stiffness had let up and the next couple of day I felt more focused and slept much better. I shared my experience here with the intend to inspire you in your journey to healing without opioids. If you feel ready to try acupuncture, find a trusted practitioner, check out their credentials and reviews before letting them work on you. Also, everyones body and needs are different, so give yourself time to see results. Below I share a quick guide to understanding acupuncture's process and benefits.

Is Acupuncture Right for You?

Using needles to adjust bodily functions to optimum levels is the principle behind acupuncture. Both ancient Chinese and modern Western practitioners have used this technique to relieve many sufferers of chronic disease. Needling is a relatively safe, beneficial treatment strategy that can be used to reduce pain, improve healing, and increase general well-being. But exactly how is this procedure done and what sort of benefits can be obtained?

Procedure for Needle Puncture

There are two broad categories of acupuncture practice today, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and medical acupuncture. Both have their merits, so the choice is individual. The decision for most people hinges upon which philosophy appeals more to them and which technique holds the least apprehension.

In TCM, practitioners adhere to the concept of Qi, or energy flow, and the meridians in which they travel. They use longer needles and insert them deeper in order to reach the acupuncture points. Modern science has found little evidence to prove the existence of these energy channels, but this is the technique that has been used effectively for thousands of years.

In medical acupuncture, the practitioners are graduates of western medical schools. Their application of needles is not based on the traditional acupuncture points, but on anatomic data. These acupuncturists use shorter needles and the insertions are shallower. They also tend to use fewer needles and leave them inserted for shorter periods of time. Adherents to TCM feel this is a watered-down version of the real thing. Nevertheless, many patients have felt relief of symptoms through this method.

Conditions for Puncture Application

There is a broad and extensive list of ailments which can be treated with acupuncture. The conditions run the gamut from asthma to constipation, anxiety to weight loss. Most TCM practitioners believe that any health condition results from an imbalance in Qi flow, therefore amenable to needle therapy. Western acupuncturists tend to have a more limited list of indications, the most common of which is undoubtedly control of pain.

Control of pain is the most well researched of all of the indications for acupuncture. There is a definite beneficial effect for a majority of patients using this method. Migraines, premenstrual syndrome, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and neuralgias are but a few examples. The theory behind its effectiveness is also medically accepted and well researched, called the gate-control theory of pain. It states that the needles can stimulate nerves so that they block the impulses from pain triggers.

Expected Puncture Session Result

It is important to emphasize that acupuncture is used only on top of existing medical therapy. At no time should a patient discontinue medication or ignore medical instructions in favor of needle puncture. After undergoing a needle puncture regimen, the primary care physician can make an evaluation with regards to decreasing dependence on other therapies.

A course of acupuncture therapy will last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. This depends upon the complexity of the particular medical condition. Results also vary, so it is important to have a frank discussion with the acupuncturist regarding expected results and their time frame. In general, the patient will begin to feel beneficial effects after three or four session. Certain specific conditions will actually get a little worse before improving so keeping informed is key.


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