Acupuncture is a medical technique that was developed in China over 2000 year ago and is still used ubiquitously today. Traditional Chinese medicine theory states that the needles work by restoring imbalances between the different organs / energy channels of the body by selectively directing the movement of qi. Modern day explanations of what qi could be include: the flow of electricity between cells in our bodies, lines of increased conductivity in the fascia (connective tissue), or even simply the propagation of information from cell to cell. However, none of these explanations fully captures the meaning and poetry behind qi because it also represents the energizing force within all living beings.
Acupuncture is usually used as part of a comprehensive plan that includes diet changes and maintaining a healthy daily routine. Chinese medicine also includes use of herbs, many of which are actually common food items, such as cinnamon, ginger, and mushrooms.
What is acupuncture useful for?
Acupuncture has been shown to be helpful by scientific trials for the following issues:
-Any type of chronic pain: shoulder injury, neck pain, back pain, fibromyalgia
-Nausea and vomiting from pregnancy or due to chemotherapy
-Addictions, ie tobacco
-Helping to turn breech babies prior to delivery
Although evidence for the following conditions are mixed in clinical trials, Dr. Leng has also found remarkable success in using acupuncture for:
-Difficulty conceiving pregnancy (infertility)
-Menstrual pain and PMS
-Sports injuries - ankle sprains, knee injury, rotator cuff strains, etc.
-Irritable bowel syndrome
-Viral infections - especially at the very start of a cold to stave off the full blown infection
-Anxiety / stress / difficulty sleeping
1) Is acupuncture painful?
There can be discomfort when the needle is being placed, but it is not nearly as bad as people might think who have never had acupuncture before. The needles used in drawing blood are much thicker, have a cutting edge, and are hollow. All of these factors cause the insertion to be painful. In contrast, the acupuncture needle is tiny, has a rounded tip that does not cut through tissue easily, and is solid. Because of this, acupuncture needle insertion is much more comfortable.
2) Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture has been extensively studied in clinical trials around the world, including in the US, China, and Europe, and has been found to be very safe. The incidence of minor bruising or bleeding or a brief muscle spasm at the insertion site is fairly common, but the risk of serious injury is phenomenally rare. Acupuncture is actually much safer than most conventional Western medications or procedures.
3) How soon until you see results?
For many patients, they will experience immediate pain relief during the treatment that can often be dramatic. For other issues, such as anxiety and insomnia, most people will feel an effect the same day. For more chronic issues, such as IBS and infertility, you made need several treatments before you can get a sense of whether acupuncture works for you.
4) How long does it last for? How often do you have to come in?
For pain relief, it can be quite variable with some patients getting relief for a few days and others for weeks or months and sometimes for good. Dr. Leng typically recommends weekly treatments to start with and then spacing it out as soon as you are getting better.