What is Acupuncture?

What is it?

  • Acupuncture is a type of alternative medicine that involves inserting very thin needles into certain points on the body. It has been used for thousands of years and is a key component of current Chinese medicine. It has commonly been used for pain relief as well as to treat a wide variety of conditions.

How Does it Work?

  • Traditional view: The traditional view believes that there is a life-force (called Qi) that flows through the body in various channels. If there is a disruption in the flow of Qi in one of these channels, then problems begin to arise. Certain channels are associated with certain conditions. This view posits that the needles are placed in such a way as to facilitate flow towards or away from the channels in question, and aid in the problem associated with that channel.
  • Non-traditional view: This view abandons the idea of the flow of Qi through the body and states that the effects of pain relief come from the release of endorphins after the needles are placed. These endorphins are a natural chemical in the body that result in a feeling of happiness and pain relief.

What Evidence Does it have Behind it?

  • One 2012 meta-analysis showed that acupuncture has been found to be beneficial for four different types of chronic pain: back & neck pain, knee osteoarthritis, chronic headache, and shoulder pain1.
  • Two separate meta-analyses have found acupuncture to be effective in the prophylaxis of tension-type headaches and episodic migraines2,3.
  • A 2014 review showed that acupuncture could be a beneficial alternative in the treatment of osteoarthritis patients4.

Did you Know?

  • There are cases of people undergoing open-heart surgery with the only anesthesia being acupuncture.



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Written by Dr. Brandon Buchla, DC, CSCS

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