Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years as a form of alternative medicine to treat patients for pain by inserting thin needles under their skin. The procedure is virtually painless and does not involve the use of surgery or drugs. The main philosophy behind acupuncture is a belief that disturbances in the flow of “qi” (life energy) are the root cause of most health issues in the human body. By inserting needles on precise points to stimulate the flow of electricity around muscles and skin and regulate the function of organs, it is believed that patients can be cured of various ailments.
At NJ Health and Injury, our doctors have completed extensive training in the use of acupuncture for a variety of health and psychological conditions. These conditions include neck pain, back pain, arthritis, migraines, sciatica, anxiety, and depression. Through the prudent use of acupuncture, sometimes in conjunction with other treatments, we have helped patients avoid surgery and pharmaceutical pills or even discontinue taking their pills in favor of natural treatments. True to our mission, we will only recommend acupuncture if we feel that it will address the root cause of the patient’s ailment.
Process of Acupuncture Treatment
Before anyone is treated using acupuncture at NJ Health and Injury, the patient needs to schedule an initial consultation with one of our doctors. The patient must provide their doctor with an accurate account of their overall lifestyle habits and medical history so we can develop an individualized treatment plan. During the initial evaluation, the doctor will make notes about the patient’s overall complexion, voice, and tongue color and measure the pulse at three points on each wrist. Practitioners of traditional Chinese Medicine often place specific emphasis on the tongue, including size, shape, tension, color, and coating of different parts of the tongue and their corresponding meridians. Patients should not hesitate to ask questions and share any additional health concerns they may have.
If we believe that the patient is an ideal candidate for acupuncture either as a standalone treatment or in conjunction with other treatments and lifestyle modifications, we will develop a holistic and multifaceted treatment plan that the doctor will discuss with the patient. If the patient commits to following all aspects of our treatment plan, we will schedule a future appointment to start treatment.
Acupuncture is believed to stimulate electrical impulses and the release of endorphins throughout the body. The endorphins function as a natural opioid in the body and their release is precisely targeted based on the type of pain the patient is being treated for. Acupuncture also has a profound influence on the pituitary gland and hypothalamus, which modulate overall hormonal secretion throughout the body. Based on the specific condition being treated using acupuncture, needles will be inserted under the skin in different areas. For most appointments, expect to spend 20 to 30 minutes total with the doctor. In addition to traditional treatment with thin needles, some of the most popular acupuncture techniques include:
- Moxibustion: Using heated sticks made from dried Artimesia vulgaris to stimulate the flow of Qi and strengthen the kidneys. Moxibustion has also been used to successfully treat menstrual pain.
- Cupping: The doctor places several glass or plastic cups on the body, which function as open spheres. A flammable substance is initially placed in the cup to remove oxygen and subsequently removed while the cup is placed on the skin. This creates a vacuum effect to adhere to the skin, and toxins are released from the body in the process of treatment.
- Herbs: The doctor may instruct the patient to take certain roots, leaves, stems, flowers, stems, seeds, or herbal teas. The herbs vary based on the condition the patient is being treated for.
- Electroacupuncture: An electrical device further stimulates the acupuncture needles during treatment.
- Laser acupuncture: Stimulates the pertinent acupuncture points without the use of needles during treatment.
- Acupressure: The practitioner massages specific areas on the body based on the treatment being administered. This has proven to be effective at treating chronic pain and musculoskeletal conditions.
History of Acupuncture
Based on what is documented, it is known that acupuncture was used as early as 100 BC in China and its usage fluctuated in popularity over the centuries. The practice spread to Korea and Japan in the 6th Century AD through medical missionaries. Acupuncture first began to gain mainstream acceptance in the United States after Richard Nixon visited China in 1972 and learned about the practice. In 1995, acupuncture needles were officially recognized by the FDA as medical instruments and the NIH acknowledged the effectiveness of acupuncture treatments in 1997. Over 40 states have followed by developing licensing and certification requirements to verify the credentials of acupuncture providers.
The field of medicine is currently undergoing a paradigm shift towards more holistic treatments and the embrace of alternative medicine. Acupuncture is one of the treatments at the forefront of this evolution. Mainstream medicine has often criticized acupuncture as “quackery” and dismissed success stories as merely the result of a placebo effect. However, these criticisms are often from the same medical providers who have indiscriminately prescribed highly-addictive opioids to treat patients experiencing chronic pain. This has resulted in an epidemic of opioid addiction and led some patients to use illicit drugs such as heroin or fentanyl if they were unable to continue taking opioids.
Cognizant of this shift in pain management, even the American Society of Anesthesiologists has recognized the benefit of acupuncture for lower back pain, but only in conjunction with conventional treatment. However, most anesthesiologists have not received any training in the administration of acupuncture for pain relief. It is our hope that more mainstream medical providers will recognize the benefits of acupuncture in the future. Our doctors at NJ Health and Injury have been at the forefront of the latest advances in the field of acupuncture. As we continue to successfully treat patients who were unable to experience the same results from conventional treatments, we are confident that more people will become aware of the benefits of acupuncture for the treatment of chronic pain and various psychological conditions without invasive surgeries or pharmaceutical drugs. If you are interested in learning more about the health benefits of acupuncture, please contact NJ Health & Injury to schedule a consultation with our acupuncturist.