Acupuncture literally means needle piercing. It is the practice of inserting very fine needles into the skin to stimulate specific points.
When it is practiced by a qualified practitioner, acupuncture is generally considered safe, even in children and pregnant women. However, unnecessary procedures should be avoided during pregnancy.
The most common use of acupuncture is to treat muscle and joint pain. The technique is often applied for arthritis, chronic back pain, sports injuries, and other similar problems.
Acupuncture can also be helpful for relieving dental pain and for relief of chronic headaches. A 2003 Cochrane review concluded that there was insufficient evidence to make any recommendations about acupuncture for acute low-back pain.
Every acupuncture treatment begins with a history and examinations.
To receive a treatment, the person lies down on a table. He or she needs to remove enough clothing for the acupuncturist to reach the key points on the body. Very fine, sterile, stainless steel needles are inserted into the skin at the relevant points. Because the needles are so thin, they do not usually cause any bleeding or pain.
Other techniques can also be used as part of the acupuncture treatment. These include: applying a small electric current to the needlessmall pen-like tools to produce an infrared low power laser beamapplying burning herbs to the end of the needle, which is called moxibustionultrasound
The One Spirit Encyclopedia of Complementary Health. Published by Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd, 2000