Acupuncture

What is Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a form of treatment that involves inserting very thin needles through a person's skin at specific points on the body, to various depths.

Research suggests that it can help relieve pain, and it is used for a wide range of other complaints.

However, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), there is limited evidence for its effectiveness in areas other than pain.

How acupuncture works scientifically remains unclear. Some people claim it works by balancing vital energy, while others believe it has a neurological effect. Acupuncture remains controversial among Western medical doctors and scientists.

Benefits Of  Acupuncture

Research carried out in Germany has shown that acupuncture may help relieve tension headaches and migraines.

The NCCIH note that it has been proven to help in cases of:

  • low back pain

  • neck pain

  • osteoarthritis

  • knee pain

  • headache and migraine

 

They list additional disorders that may benefit from acupuncture, but which require further scientific confirmation.

In 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) listed a number of conditions in which they say acupuncture has been proven effective.

These include:

 

Other conditions for which the WHO say that acupuncture may help but more evidence is needed include:

  • fibromyalgia

  • neuralgia

  • post-operative convalescence

  • substance, tobaccor and alcohol dependence

  • spine pain

  • stiff neck

  • vascular dementia

  • whooping cough, or pertussis

  • Tourette syndrome

 

The WHO also suggest that it may help treat a number of infections, including some urinary tract infections and epidemic hemorrhagic fever.

They point out, however, that "only national health authorities can determine the diseases, symptoms, and conditions for which acupuncture treatment can be recommended."

 

Acupuncture can be beneficial in that:

  • Performed correctly, it is safe.

  • There are very few side effects.

  • It can be effectively combined with other treatments.

  • It can control some types of pain.

  • It may help patients for whom pain medications are not suitable.

The NCCIH advise people not to use acupuncture instead of seeing a conventional health care provider.

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