19 Nov What do you know about Acupuncture?
Do you ever associate Acupuncture with the mystical? An ancient art that defies explanation? Something to do with chakras, energy channels and Tai Chi? Or was that, Qi?
It’s an unfortunate image, because Acupuncture is actually extremely scientific.
Lost in translation
Consider this: Acupuncture has been around for 3000-5000 years, and the stories that define it are similarly antique.
These first practitioners didn’t have access to our intricate knowledge of anatomy and physiology. Clinical trials. A working picture of what happens below the surface of the body.
Instead, they explained Acupuncture via analogy – stories and metaphor – to account for things they couldn’t see, but knew were there.
Terms like ‘energy channels’ are code for adjacent muscles (or chains of muscles) that have similar functions, with fibres that flow in a similar direction. Gateways and pressure points better understood as bundles of nerves.
Where science and storytelling overlap
At face-value, Acupuncture terminology can sound kinda kooky. But these terms represent specific (and measurable) bodily phenomena – what we now know thanks to modern science.
That’s why I’m determined to inject science and clarity into discussions about Acu. Offer an evidence-based account of exactly how it works, and why it makes you feel better.
Because it’s an incredible therapy! My medically-inclined mind continues to marvel at its effectiveness.
Acupuncture has massive potential to relieve pain, injuries, tension, inflammation – even allergic conditions. But talking about it in mystical terms does it a great disservice.
Enter: My ACU FAQ.
Everything you ever wanted to know about Acupuncture (minus the woo speak)
How does acupuncture work?
In a few important ways. A simple explanation of one? By needling tight spots in muscle (trigger points) so that they twitch and release. This allows the muscle to lengthen and soften, increasing mobility and reducing pain.
Here’s a word for you: microcirculation.
That’s what’s going on beneath the surface of the skin; blood flow and movement. Needling an area has been shown to double microcirculation. Meaning? More blood, nutrients and oxygen to the tissue. Which leads to faster, superior healing for injuries. Sweet!
What about for pain relief?
Acupuncture reduces pain in three main ways: Inhibiting pain signals sent through pain receptors, increasing endorphins (pain killer chemicals), and deactivating areas of the brain associated with pain (this is linked to needling specific acupoints).
It also decreases inflammation by mildly irritating local tissue to cause an anti-inflammatory response. It’s like drawing your body’s attention to a problem so it sends in the repair men.
Other issues such as nausea, sinusitis and gastric motility are helped in the same way.
Acupuncture reduces stress hormones such as cortisol. Cue feelings of zen!
You’ve survived the long answer! But if you’re looking for a short one…?
Acupuncture works by releasing tight muscles, increasing blood flow to the injury site, inhibiting pain pathways, and triggering systemic responses by stimulating sensitive points.
You’re welcome to memorise that.
Does acupuncture hurt?
You’re not scared of these little things, are you?
They wouldn’t hurt a fly! (Unless you’re asking the karate kid).
The needles are hair thin, penetrating the skin quickly and painlessly. When the needle is in the muscle, you may feel a tiny pinch, a dull radiating sensation (which can be quite pleasant) or a local muscle twitch (the muscle will rapidly and briefly contract as they’re releasing).
But overt pain? Nope.
How does acupuncture differ from dry needling?
Dry needling has its roots in Acupuncture, but refers to a specific technique where trigger points are needled and released.
Acupuncture includes this PLUS other needling techniques for pain. It also has a broader application and can treat non-muscular conditions such as migraine, period pain, nausea, sinusitis and pregnancy related problems.
In short, dry needling is one spanner in Acupuncture’s handyman toolbelt.
What can acupuncture treat?
· Chronic/acute pain, including: back, neck, shoulder, knee, elbow, wrist etc, TMJ, RSI/tennis elbow/overuse syndromes, sports injuries, myofascial pain/muscle tightness, muscle strains, bursitis, tendonitis, tenosynovitis,headaches, migraines, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, osteoarthritis, frozen shoulder, Bell’s palsy (facial paralysis), trigeminal neuralgia, period pain—basically any pain/musculoskeletal ailments/sports injury that you can think of!
· Pregnancy issues: nausea, back/pelvic pain, malpositioned foetus, labour pain/aiding in labour beginning and carpal tunnel.
· Period pain and PMS (it may also help to make hot flushes more bearable too! *wipes brow*)
· Certain digestive issues: especially nausea (including morning sickness, post-operative, chemo-related), and can positively affect the movements in your digestive system, plus pain.
· Sinus/nasal: sinusitis, rhinitis (hayfever).
· Mental stress
And so much more!
Still have questions?
Get in touch with our friendly team by calling (08) 8239 0575 or send us an email! We love hearing from you and will send you a verbose and enthusiastic reply, pronto! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Looking forward to helping you find relief through Acupuncture!
Salvatore Pesaturo, Clarity Acupuncturist