Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine practice devised some 2,500 years ago to restore and maintain good health. It involves inserting very fine, filiform needles through the skin at specific points on the body to alleviate pain or to help treat various health conditions — from back pain to infertility.
Don’t worry, the process is virtually painless for most patients. You’re more likely to experience a tingling sensation that typically lasts throughout a treatment. Single-use, disposable needles are now the practice standard, so the risk of infection is minimal.
In traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is used to balance the flow of life force energy, or Qi (“chee”), in your body. Acupuncture doctors target specific pathways, known as meridians, to restore and balance this flow. It also boosts the body’s natural painkillers and promotes healing and relaxation.
Western medical practitioners have embraced the treatment in recent years and some have even been certified in the practice. They tend to view acupuncture points as places to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue.
Either way, acupuncture is now mainstream and covered by many insurance plans and Medicaid, such as Sunshine, Devoted, and Simply including the VA.
Acupuncture physicians will ask you about your symptoms, behaviors and lifestyle to help determine the best course of treatment. They may also examine parts of your body where you’re experiencing pain. But the needles won’t necessarily be inserted there.
An initial treatment could take up to an hour. Subsequent appointments typically take 30 minutes.
A treatment plan for a single complaint would typically involve one or two treatments a week for several weeks. But the number of treatments will depend on the condition being treated and its severity.
Remember, acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for many people experiencing a variety of symptoms.