Acupuncture is widely understood to be a non-traditional (not a traditional part of western medicine) treatment option for back pain or neck pain. While acupuncture is often not the first line of treatment sought for most back or neck problems, an increasing number of patients, as well as physicians and other health professionals are starting to use acupuncture as a means to reduce neck pain and back pain.
Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that can be traced back at least 2,500 years. The general premise of acupuncture is that the body contains patterns of energy flow. The Acupuncturist prepares to tap needle into patients hand vital energy or life force of the body is referred to as qi (pronounced “chee”), and proper flow of qi is considered to be necessary to maintain health.
The theory of acupuncture is that there are over 2,000 points on the human body that connect with 20 pathways (meridians). These pathways conduct the qi throughout the body. With acupuncture, hair-thin metallic needles are inserted into specific combinations of these 2,000 points in an attempt to correct and/or maintain a normal flow of qi.
How Acupuncture Works
The mechanisms of acupuncture, though not solidly proven, have exhibited several commonly accepted effects to the body. Most notable is that acupuncture stimulates the central nervous system—the brain and spinal cord.
Most people report a tingling sensation, feeling relaxed or even energized. Again, this is largely based on the individual receiving the acupuncture treatment and how he or she perceives it.
During an acupuncture treatment session, anywhere from 1 to 20 FDA-approved, metallic needles are inserted into the body, ranging from just breaking the surface to up to 1 or several inches long. The longer acupuncture needles (such as 5 to 9 inches) are inserted into areas of deeper muscle/fat layers or along, under the skin or even scalp, depending on what is being treated and the required depth or penetration. The acupuncture needles are often left in for approximately 15 to 30 minutes. Some practitioners insert needles, turn them either in one direction or the other or both, depending on what they are attempting to achieve, and these needles are inserted for perhaps 10 seconds only, removed and the same needle is used for treatment of other points on that same patient. In certain instances, needles are warmed or electrically charged after insertion. The electrical acupuncture can be used with needles or through the use of a non-penetrating probe.