Acupuncture stems from an ancient Chinese approach to medicine. While the traditional practice isn’t based in science and medicine, the technique has been shown to have very real, physical effects on the body. Acupuncture involves the insertion of ultra-fine needles into specific points on the body. In the ancient practice, this was believed to alter the flow of energy around the body so that it can better heal itself. However, modern acupuncture is actually used to treat a wide variety of different complaints.
Natural pain relief is one of the biggest benefits of acupuncture sessions. Many people turn to acupuncture to obtain relief from chronic, long-term pain conditions such as arthritis, headaches/migraines, back pain and fibromyalgia and to reduce or eliminate their use of prescription pain medications. This is because acupuncture has been known to stimulate the body’s natural pain-relieving substances, including endorphins. These feel-good chemicals are important for pain management because they produce a morphine-like effect, decreasing your perception of pain. As they flood your body during acupuncture, they can also cause you to feel pleasure, relaxation even a hint of euphoria. Endorphin levels can remain raised for up to 24 hours before they start to subside.
Cortisol is a stress hormone and a big component of the ‘fight or flight’ response that we feel in times of high emotion, such as when we are scared or threatened. In small amounts, cortisol is helpful. However, persistently high levels of cortisol can put our body feeling constantly on edge, and this can lead to issues including insomnia, depression, anxiety and even digestive issues. As we know, acupuncture releases the body’s natural endorphins which make you feel good. It also reduces the amount of cortisol and keeps your heart rate normal, lowering the level of stress that you feel.
If you aren’t keen on needles, then it’s reasonable to think that acupuncture may not be for you. However, many people are surprised by how tolerable and even relaxing the treatment is.
Before you attend your first appointment, your acupuncture therapist will first want to speak to you about the issues that you are experiencing and find out more about your medical history. If you are currently taking any medications, it is important to disclose these to your acupuncturist. They may also ask you about your day-to-day life, your habits and usual body functions. These can all provide important information about how your body works and how acupuncture could benefit you.
Acupuncture needles are extremely fine – anywhere from 25-50 times thinner than a hypodermic needle. This means that acupuncture is virtually painless, with most patients experience nothing more than a slight momentary scratch when they are placed into the body. Exactly how you will be positioned during treatment will depend on the area being treated and will be explained to you by your acupuncturist. What you will feel during the treatment will vary too, but many patients become relaxed enough to fall asleep.
Acupuncture is nearly always carried out as part of a course of treatment, with sessions taking place over a number of weeks or months. Your acupuncture technician will create your treatment plan which will be tailored to your individual requirements.
If you’d like more information about acupuncture for pain and stress relief, call Active Family Chiropractic & Acupuncture at our offices in Grand Island (308) 384-4955, Hastings (402) 249-5500, Kearney (308) 222-4400, or Columbus (402) 265-6800, Nebraska.