What is Acupuncture
Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that involves the insertion of small needles at strategic points on the body known as acupuncture points (Mayo Clinic, 2022). In Chinese medicine, acupuncture is used to balance the flow of qi, which they describe as energy or life force. Acupuncture is believed to stimulate nerves, which causes the release of chemicals into the brain, muscles, and spinal cord to stimulate healing and offer pain relief (Johns Hopkins Medicine, n.d.).
During an acupuncture session, the practitioner will insert needles into the acupuncture points associated with the patient’s complaint. The needles used in this procedure are usually thin in size and cause little discomfort. After insertion, the practitioner may manipulate the needles by either moving or twisting the needles, applying heat, or applying electrical pulses. The needles are removed after 10 to 15 minutes (Mayo Clinic, 2022).
Acupuncture and other alternative medicine practices are rising in popularity in the U.S. Some large healthcare institutions now promote more holistic approaches to healthcare. UCSF’s Osher Center for Integrative Health offers a wide range of services to women such as integrative women’s health consultations, acupuncture, nutritional support, and much more to their patients.
Acupuncture may help ease discomfort from:
- Back Pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Chemotherapy-induced and postoperative nausea and vomiting
- Dental pain
- Labor pain
- Menstrual cramps
- Neck pain
- Respiratory disorders, such as allergic rhinitis
- Tennis elbow (Cleveland Clinic, 2020; Johns Hopkins Medicine, n.d.; Mayo Clinic, 2022)
Acupuncture has also been recommended to manage PCOS. Some research found that acupuncture helped improve insulin sensitivity and decreased testosterone in patients with PCOS (Junyoung et al., 2017).
The risks for acupuncture are low with a certified acupuncture practitioner. However, acupuncture is not recommended for every person. If you have a bleeding disorder, pacemaker, or are pregnant, talk to your doctor before starting treatment (Mayo Clinic, 2022).
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