How Does Acupuncture Work?

Needles in Back of Patient

The question I’m asked most frequently about acupuncture (after does it hurt? and no by the way) is how does it work? So here’s a little guide to how it works…

Acupuncture Needles Create Micro Trauma & Inflammation

When an acupuncture needle enters your skin, it creates a small puncture hole – a micro-trauma in your body. The body immediately responds by sending inflammatory cells to the region to ward off the perceived intruder (needle). If you look closely when you’re being needled the tissue around the needle will frequently go red – that’s the inflammatory response.

Anti-Inflammatory Chemicals Are Released

After about 15 minutes or less the body realizes there is no intruder to fight off so the inflammatory response is called off and the body enters a deep state of relaxation. Its during this time that the body releases ant-inflammatory chemicals and that the parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for healing and relaxation) is engaged.

Why do some needles stay in the Body For Over 15 Minutes and Some Are Pulled Straight out?

Needles that are retained for over 20 minutes treat what are known as excess conditions in Chinese medicine. Retaining needles stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and promotes deep relaxation and healing.

Those needles that are put straight in and out of the body strengthen weakness in the body. They strongly stimulate the inflammatory response & the bodies sympathetic nervous system to induce a more active state of healing. An example of when this may be used is to induce sweating in patients with sore throat or flu.

Why Do I feel So Relaxed after a Treatment?

    The needles themselves promote the release of pain killing and mood altering substances such as opiods and endorphins… frequently leaving you relaxed and with a reduced sense of pain

How Does Acupuncture Work For Musculo-Skeletal Problems?

Injury of soft tissue often causes it to tighten to protect surrounding tissue. Needling can release constricted tissue and release anti-inflammatory chemicals.

Acupuncture can be favorable to manipulation and massage for two reasons:

  • In acute situations the body can react against too much pressure in the area from manual therapies. Needles are minimally invasive and have less likelihood of adverse reactions to treatment, yet can yield miraculous results.
  • The needles can reach much further into tissue deep in the body.

So How Does Acupuncture Work For Other Conditions? I’ve heard its good at Lowering Blood Pressure? How so?

Organs in the body can manifest pain in the tissue of the body. Particularly those organs that have no intrinsic pain fibres such as the heart. A disorder of the heart is not felt in the heart itself but often in the chest, shoulder and left arm. This pain traces the median and ulnar nerve down the left arm. By the time you feel this pain your heart will be functioning sub-optimally as it can operate as low as 25% of its function without manifesting pain.

To help the heart self-regulate – for example from atrial fibrillations or high blood pressure – needles may be placed along the arm.

This helps solve the mystery for many patients of why needles aren’t always placed in the locality of pain. Needles are often placed in the hand for headache, the wrist for nausea and the anywhere from the upper back to lower legs for lower back pain and sciatica.

I hope this answered some questions for you. If you’d like to know any more information please do not hesitate to contact me on 07764 254881.