Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese system of health care. It aims to prevent and cure specific diseases and conditions by sticking very fine, solid needles into points of the body.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture stimulates the body's ability to resist or overcome illnesses and conditions by correcting imbalances. Acupuncture also prompts the body to produce chemicals that decrease or eliminate painful sensations.
There are nearly 1,000 acupuncture points (called acu-points) along the body's 14 major meridians, or energy-carrying channels. Many acu-points are near nerves. When stimulated, these nerves cause a dull ache or feeling of fullness in the muscle. The stimulated muscle sends a message to the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), causing the release of endorphins (morphine-like chemicals produced in our own bodies during times of pain or stress). Endorphins, along with other neurotransmitters (body chemicals that modify nerve impulses), block the message of pain from being delivered up to the brain.
What happens during acupuncture treatment?
The acupuncturist will use hair-thin metal needles. Each needle is sterile and pre-packaged. The number of needles used during treatment can vary from two to eight. The needles are placed at various depths, ranging from a fraction of an inch to two inches. They are placed under the skin in carefully determined points on the body. After the needles have been inserted, they stay in place from a few minutes up to 20 minutes. During the treatment, acupuncture needles are twirled, energized electrically, or warmed to intensify the effect of the treatment. When electricity is applied, a tingling sensation is common. However, if the sensation becomes too strong, you can ask your doctor or the nurse to reduce the electricity at any time.
In a treatment series, your doctor will use different combinations of points, different needling techniques, or both. These combinations help stimulate new sources of healing as the patient's response to treatment is observed. Dr. Lam may also incorporate herbal medicine into the treatment for faster more effective results.