The most frequent question I hear with acupuncture is, “Does it hurt?” It’s funny to me because the person is more concerned whether the tiny needles will cause discomfort than about the severe pain or problem he or she is experiencing.

Studies showing the effectiveness of acupuncture are being seen in mainstream journals such as the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine . These studies are predominantly regarding pain relief but other topics are being studied. A few recent studies showed that acupuncture improved issues ranging from nausea, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. It has even improved rates of successful pregnancy in cases of infertility.

Even though oriental medicine works extremely well for pain, it does much more. Conditions such as PMS, hot flashes, insomnia, digestive complaints, asthma, allergies and depression are extremely common in acupuncture offices today. Even patients with more severe diseases such as stroke, heart problems and cancer are finding success with oriental medicine as either a primary treatment or as complementary care to conventional treatment.

In oriental medicine pain or dysfunction are caused by blockages or imbalances in “qi” or the vital energy in the body. This qi flows along pathways or meridians in the body and connect with organ systems to create a sort of energy web and ensures proper functioning of the organs. When there is pain or less than optimal function it is because the qi is not flowing properly.

You may hear diagnoses such as: deficiency heat pattern, or cold blocking the channels, blood stasis (a major cause of pain) and liver qi stagnation, which is caused by stress and is one of the most prevalent diagnoses in America today.

Acupuncture does much more than suppress symptoms; it addresses the cause of the problem. By helping to remove the blockages and balance the imbalances it relieves pain, improves function and initiates healing.

As in anything there are skeptics. To those naysayers, I say:

There are many, very well done studies from other countries that we do not see in the media in this country.

There is a valid form of evaluation known as empirical evidence, commonly known as observation. If something didn’t work, do you think they would have continued to use it? They didn’t say, hey, these acupuncture points didn’t work for the past 1,000 years, why don’t you give them a try.

Try it for yourself and see, if it doesn’t work for you then you can say something about it, such as, “It didn’t work for me.”

On the other hand, people sometimes come in expecting a miracle. There are times that we can deliver. I had a patient who was in severe pain from a migraine. The first needle resolved her nausea. By the third needle, her eyes were open and within 20 minutes she was smiling. In most cases people have problems that have been going on for years. I’m good but I usually cannot solve a problem that is “years old” with one or two treatments. You will probably see some results that quickly but usually a more complete resolution takes a little more time.

Does it hurt? Most of the time, no. The needles are about as thin as a hair. For those that are truly afraid of needles, we can stimulate acupuncture points quite effectively with electrical stimulation probes or low power lasers.

Acupuncture is a fantastic system that helps get to the cause of the problem and will be a part of the modern face of health care in this country.

Originally posted on South Lake Press

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