Acupuncture is an ancient healing therapy that involves inserting very fine, sterile needles into the skin at certain points on the body. It's believed the needles stimulate the points, creating a healing effect. Your doctor may recommend acupuncture as a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapy. Below are five facts to know about this fascinating treatment.
1. Acupuncture treats pain.
Research suggests that acupuncture can help relieve pain, especially in the teeth, jaw, neck, shoulder, low back and knee.
Other painful conditions that can benefit from acupuncture include:
- headaches and migraines
- tennis elbow
- rheumatoid arthritis
The reason why acupuncture reduces pain isn't yet fully understood, but it's believed that it increases blood flow, decreases muscle tension, and helps the body produce natural painkilling chemicals.
2. Acupuncture may help other conditions.
Several conditions may benefit from acupuncture. For example, there is some evidence that acupuncture may be an effective CAM therapy for depression, insomnia and digestive issues. It's also used to treat nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy and surgery.
3. Acupuncture has few side effects.
Side effects may include minor soreness, bruising and bleeding where the needles are inserted. Because acupuncture has so few side effects, some physicians say there's no reason not to try it when all else fails.
4. Acupuncturists need training and credentials.
Acupuncture is regulated at the state level. According to the State Medical Board of Ohio, acupuncturists in Ohio must:
- be at least 18 years old
- be of good moral character
- submit a criminal background check
- hold a current and active designation from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine as a diplomate in acupuncture
Check your practitioner's training and credentials before you schedule your treatment.
5. Some physicians are trained acupuncturists.
Though an acupuncturist doesn't have to be a doctor, some doctors and dentists are trained in acupuncture. In addition to myself, The Christ Hospital Physicians is home to two primary care doctors who practice acupuncture—Montiel Rosenthal, MD, and Eleanor Glass, MD.