Today it is quite common to hear about people turning to acupuncture for chronic pain relief. The FDA estimates that 9 to 12 million acupuncture treatments are now performed annually in the U.S. Acupuncture supporters claimthat it is an accessible, safer, less expensive treatment than conventional pain therapies—providing a surgery-free option to alleviating chronic health problems.
What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture, developed by the Chinese thousands of years ago, is performed to stimulate designated points on the body in order to relieve pain, enhance recuperative powers, and strengthen the immune system. This is done through the insertion of small needles, finger pressure, application of heat, or a combination thereof.
According to ancient Chinese belief, there is a network of energy called “qi” (pronounced ‘chee’) that flows through the body and connects these points through different channels or “meridians.” These pathways are related to the organs, the muscular and nervous systems and their specific internal functions.
If there is an imbalance in the flow of the body’s energy, then pain or illness results. With acupuncture, this imbalance can be corrected.
Many physician scientists have shown that acupuncture treatments can cause the release of endorphins, natural pain relieving substances found in the brain and spinal cord. This may explain how acupuncture is helpful in relieving pain.
How Acupuncture Is Done
The practice of acupuncture involves Dr. Lambert making a diagnosis based on the review of a patient’s symptoms, personal characteristics and a physical examination. Patients under the care of another physician should remain so, and continue medications as prescribed by them.
Acupuncture is done with extremely fine, hair-thin, flexible needles made of silver and steel alloy. There is nothing special about the needle, it is merely a tool to correct the energy imbalance in the body.
The needles used by Dr. Lambert are single use disposable needles to keep with the center’s strict hygiene practices.
How It Feels
As acupuncture is performed, there is often a brief “needle prick” sensation as the needle passes through the skin. Then, as the needle begins to work and the energy effect occurs, the patient may feel numbness, heat, dull aching or tingling where the needle is located. Some people are surprised to find treatments are actually quite relaxing—the result of the natural pain relieving endorphins.
Acupuncture needles are left in place usually for about 15 to 20 minutes. They may be rotated by the doctor or sometimes stimulated electrically.
The length and frequency of acupuncture treatment will vary for each individual and will be determined by Dr. Lambert according to the nature of a patient’s condition and progress. Lasting relief will be built over several appointments, and as one improves, fewer visits may be required. Some people benefit from regular treatments to maintain general health by coming every 6 to 8 weeks.
Acupuncture is a gentle therapy that encourages the body’s natural healing process, and usually leaves patients feeling rejuvenated.