For thousands of years acupuncture has been used as a way of treating pain. But how does it do it?
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory, the body can be divided into 14 standard meridian lines and 8 extra meridian lines. Pain is caused when one of these lines is blocked. For example, if you have a rotator cuff injury, the likely affected meridian will be the small intestine meridian. If you have pain in the legs, the gall bladder or stomach meridian may be affected. The location of the pain is a direct determinant of where the needles will be inserted.
Other factors determining where the needles will be inserted include:
- overall condition of the body;
- type of pain you are experiencing – aching, sharp, tension and moving pain;
- your overall energy level, plus tongue diagnosis and pulse diagnosis; and
- your emotional state.
When pain occurs, acupuncturists generally view it as either a blockage or lack of circulation through the meridian. The acupuncturist’s job is then to clear the blockage or increase the flow through the meridian line.
Now this doesn’t mean that the an acupuncturist will necessarily just put a needle in to the point of the pain. When another type of therapist does this, it is referred to as “dry needling” and is very different to acupuncture. Acupuncture has its own version of this, which is much more gentle and a lot less painful.
Side effects – the only known side effects of traditional acupuncture include:
- it does nothing;
- the problem can get worse before it gets better; and
- other signs and symptoms (that weren’t being treated) get better.
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