The term acupuncture describes a family of procedures involving the stimulation of “acu-points” on the body with very fine, single-use, sterile, disposable needles. The needles are manipulated by hand or by low-dose electrical current (electro acupuncture). It has been practiced in China and other Asian countries for thousands of years, and is the oldest medical system still in practice. Acupuncture is a type of complementary medicine introduced in the U.S. in the 70’s and endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Acupuncture services at The Polyclinic are provided by Diana Ferdaña, ARNP, RN, EAMP. Diana is certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) and she is also a nurse practitioner specializing in Physical Medicine.
Acupuncture Can Be Used to Treat Many Conditions
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes acupuncture medicine’s ability to treat over 43 common disorders including:
- Arthritis—large and small joint
- Breech presentation
- Bursitis—hip, shoulder, knee
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Chronic sinusitis
- Dequervian’s tenosynovitis
- Headache pain
- Labor induction
- Low- and mid-back pain
- Menstrual pain and irregularity
- Morning sickness
- Muscle tension
- Neck pain
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Sports injuries
- Tendonitis—ie: ‘tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow’
How does acupuncture work? Although the precise mechanism of acupuncture is not fully understood, current research show the following:
- The “acu-points” are located at sites that have a high density of neurovascular structures and are generally between or at the edges of muscle groups. These locations are actually less painful than random needle sticks into a muscle group.
- The neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine are released into the spinal cord suppressing transmission of pain signals to the brain when acu-points are stimulated.
Are there any side effects to acupuncture treatment? There could be a possibility of acupuncture needles causing mild bruising and bleeding at the site of needle insertion due to needle penetration through minute blood capillaries. Patients might also experience temporary drop in blood pressure levels or low blood pressure and fatigue.
What are the needles like? Do they hurt? Most patients feel only minimal pain as the needles are inserted; some feel no pain at all. Once the needles are in place, any initial discomfort typically subsides.
What should I do to prepare for my acupuncture visit?
- Bring a list of all medications and supplements you are taking.
- Avoid applying make-up so that the acupuncturist may observe the skin on your face.
- Wear loose clothing and be prepared to undress if necessary.
- Do not drink caffeinated or alcoholic beverages four hours prior to your visit.
- Have a light meal or snack and drink an adequate amount of water on the day of the treatment.
How soon will I notice an improvement? Most find that improvement in a day or a few days. Just as therapies you receive from your regular doctor, the number of treatments depends on your conditions, health, age, and responsiveness to the treatment. Most people require a course of three to six treatments.
What should I expect following the acupuncture treatment? You may feel a little light-headed after your treatment. In a few minutes, you should feel relaxed and clear-headed. However, call a friend or a family member to drive your home if you do not feel alert enough to drive safely. We recommend that you refrain from physical exertion immediately after your treatment.