Putting needles under your skin as a way to relieve pain may seem like an oxymoron, but acupuncture is just that. It is a Chinese tradition adopted by the medical world. The needles are not big, in fact, they are very thin, and they are injected into specific pressure points of the body. The Chinese and medical world have different reasons for doing it, but it all leads to the same result of pain relief. The Chinese believe adding these needles changes the energy in the body and puts it in balance. Here in the United States, trained professionals attribute the success of acupuncture to nerves, tissue, and muscle stimulation. The stimulation increases blood flow and activates the painkillers that are naturally in our bodies. No matter the source of the pain relief, just being able to get relief is wonderful.
Chronic pain is a condition that many people deal with. Some people experience pain that has no known cause. Others experience pain as a result of specific chronic illnesses. Whatever the cause is, anyone experiencing pain wants immediate relief. The pain can be debilitating. It will keep you from enjoying life and being independent. Pain can take you from an upbeat independent person to one that has to have 24-hour care. The severity of your pain may even lead to emotional problems like depression and anxiety. People look for pain relief in medications, meditation, ointments, and all types of other ways. If you have tried everything else, you may want to try acupuncture. Not everyone can do acupuncture but if you are a candidate you should consider it. Acupuncture may be the best option for relieving your pain.
The room is set up almost like a massage room. You may have to remove clothing, but it is not always necessary depending on the source of your pain. There is a padded table there for you to lay on. The professional will begin inserting thin needles all over the body. You may have as little as five needles or as many as twenty. The needles do not typically cause any pain, but they may bring you some discomfort. You may think the acupuncture therapist puts the needles in the area you are feeling pain; this is not true. The needles are sometimes placed far away from the pain source. Once the needles are inserted in the right location, they are adjusted. The acupuncture therapist will do a couple of different things to manipulate the needles. Sometimes the needles are twisted or moved around after placement. Other times heat or electricity is added. With the electricity, you may get a slight shock, but it stimulates the nerves in the body. After manipulation, the therapist leaves the needles in for up to 20 minutes. After that time, each needle is removed. Removing the needles is painless. You should feel a boost of energy and a feeling of relaxation afterward. As the weeks go on, your pain should subside completely. If you have not noticed any changes at all after a few weeks, it probably means acupuncture did not work for you. Acupuncture is typically done in multiple sessions. Your first session is the longest because the therapists have to get all the information from you and prepare the best method of treatment. Depending on your condition and the severity of the problem, they will determine how many sessions you need and how often you should come back.
Conditions Treatable by Acupuncture
Acupuncture is good for pain relief, but it cannot treat everything. Here are a few conditions most commonly treated by acupuncture:
- Headaches/ Migraines
- Neck and Back Pain
- Nausea/ Vomiting
If you do not have any of these conditions, it may not mean you cannot use acupuncture, but you should talk with your doctor and see if it is an option for you. Your condition is not the only thing that can disqualify you for acupuncture.
Not a Candidate
Several things may disqualify you for acupuncture. Pregnancy is one. When you are pregnant, you have to be very careful about body stimulation and manipulation. With acupuncture being a therapy that stimulates certain nerves, muscles, and tissues, it puts you at risk for premature labor. The stimulation of certain spots may induce labor. If you are nine months pregnant and ready to deliver, this probably does not sound like a bad idea, but it may not be safe. If you have any bleeding or blood disorder, you should also stay away from acupuncture. Sometimes those with blood disorders bruise very easily and may even bleed profusely from the smallest of pricks. You never want to get acupuncture and come out worse than you were before you came in. You can end up with bruises all over your body. Heart conditions may also disqualify you. If you have a pacemaker, you have to be extremely careful. You are off limits for electrical impulses. Those impulses can shock the heart and make your pacemaker malfunction.
There are risks with acupuncture, but these risks are low. One risk is soreness. The points in which the needle was inserted may bruise or bleed. The bruising can make you feel very sore but typically goes away after a while. Infection is another risk for acupuncture. If the needles are not sterilized properly or are reused, you may be exposed to infection. This is one reason you should go to only the best professional places for acupuncture. You do not want to go anywhere because it is cheap. Only consider places that hire professionals and keep up with safety and health standards. There is also a risk of injury. The needles are so thin and sharp that they may be pushed too deep into the skin. When this happens, organs may be punctured. This is serious because it can cause internal bleeding. If the lung is punctured, it may collapse leading to breathing troubles. It is rare for a professional to do this but it is possible.
Acupuncture may not be the most conventional way of ridding yourself of pain, but it could be the only way that works for you. If you are suffering from chronic pain and you are not pregnant nor have a bleeding disorder or heart problem, you should consider acupuncture. If you are scared of needles, you should not worry too much. It is not the same as getting a shot. You may feel discomfort, but you will not feel any real pain during the procedure. Don’t let chronic pain keep you from living life. Try acupuncture and take your life back. Even if it doesn’t work, at least you can say you tried.
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