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What does Acupuncture Treat?

Acupuncture is a gentle and safe way to treat medical conditions and maintain health.

In the United States acupuncture is mostly known for treating pain conditions, including:

  • headaches
  • back and neck pain
  • facial pain
  • osteoarthritis
  • pain resulting from sports injuries or surgery

In addition to treating pain, acupuncture also successfully treats many other problems, including:

  • digestive problems such as IBS, colitis, constipation, chronic diarrhea
  • gynecological problems, including painful periods, PCOS, PMS and infertility
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • chronic fatigue
  • menopausal symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and mood swings
  • stress
  • insomnia

The World Health Organization has issued an extensive list of diseases and symptoms for which acupuncture has shown to be effective.

How does Acupuncture work?

Acupuncture needles are inserted into specific points on the surface of the body to create a response that triggers healing within the body.

From a Chinese Medicine perspective, the use of needles adjusts and regulates the smooth flow of Qi (life force) throughout a system of channels that supply and support our organs. The smooth flow of Qi creates conditions of balance and health. From a Western medical standpoint, acupuncture soothes the nervous system, regulates the endocrine systems, boosts immunity, decreases pain and stimulates healing.

Beyond Needles

Acupuncture treatments may include several other techniques to enhance the effects of needles.

Cupping: Local suction is created by placing glass cups on the skin to promote blood flow into the treated area. This therapy is very helpful in eliminating pain and stiffness and is beneficial where there is muscular tension, arthritis, or weakness and can even be used to fight off colds and flus.

Auricular therapy: The ear is a micro-system of our body and there are hundreds of points on the ear that relate to all parts of the body. Stimulating these points is a powerful enhancement to acupuncture treatment.

Guasha: This 'rubbing' therapy uses the edge of a hard instrument to vigorously work over the skin's surface and increase local blood flow. Just as with cupping it is most often used to treat muscular tension or stiffness and can be used to fight off colds and flus.

Electrical Stimulation: Needles are attached to a device that produces an electrical pulse as a way to enhance stimulation of those needles. This treatment is used to reduce pain and stimulate healing.

Moxibustion: This method involves burning the herb Chinese Wormwood over the surface of the skin and is a way to introduce warmth and energy into the body. It is very often used for digestive problems, gynecological issues, fatigue, tissue regeneration and pain. 

What to expect during an acupuncture treatment

During an acupuncture treatment, very fine, single-use, sterile needles are inserted into points on the body. Anywhere from 5 to 20 acupuncture points are generally used at one time and treatments last between 15-60 minutes. Patients usually leave their clothes on since most acupuncture points are easily accessible.

Acupuncture needles are smaller than sewing pins and are mostly painless when inserted. Patients may feel nothing when a needle is inserted or they may experience feelings of tingling, pulling, aching, pinching, warmth or expanding around the point. Acupuncture is not meant to be painful and needles that are too uncomfortable can be removed or adjusted.

Watch a short video produced by Maureen Fox, L.Ac. describing what to expect from your first visit to the acupuncturist.