What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an ancient practice in which very fine needles are inserted into the skin at strategic points on the body to relieve pain and treat disease.
Western medicine’s view is that the placement of acupuncture needles at specific pain points releases endorphins and opioids, the body’s natural painkillers, and perhaps immune system cells as well as neurotransmitters and neurohormones in the brain. Research has shown that glucose and other bloodstream chemicals become elevated after acupuncture.
According to the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, there is also evidence that stimulating acupuncture points enables electromagnetic signals to be relayed at a greater rate than under normal conditions. This may increase the flow of healing or pain-killing natural chemicals to injured areas.
When pain is relieved, patients feel a greater sense of well-being overall, physically and emotionally. As a result, they may heal faster. Most acupuncture points coincide with the “trigger points” described by Janet G. Travell, MD, whose textbook, Myofascial Pain & Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual, is widely used at pain management centers in the Western world.
Dr. Bardwell promotes the integration of concepts from traditional and modern forms of acupuncture with Western medical training and thereby synthesizes a more comprehensive approach to health care. In traditional acupuncture models, an individual, not a diagnosis, is treated. Treatment is based not only on diagnostic evaluations derived from subjective signs and symptoms but on an accurate assessment of a patients nature/constitution.
How is Acupuncture done?
Acupuncture needles are metallic and sterile, used once and discarded. Needles are solid (not hollow, as are hypodermic or vaccination needles) and are slightly bigger than the width of human hair. Patients can feel the needle pierce the skin, but there is no pain. The puncture site is usually swabbed with a disinfectant beforehand. When the needle locates the trigger point, there may be a “grabbing” sensation, followed by a relaxed, heavy feeling and overall body warmth. Some patients even fall asleep during treatment. Side effects of acupuncture are rare, but there may be some soreness or light headedness following treatment.
There are several acupuncture methods beyond simply inserting needles. Sometimes a low electrical charge is sent through the needles and sometimes the needles are heated with a heat lamp or “moxa stick,” which is an herbal heat source that looks and burns like a cigar. Sometimes two needles are used at one trigger point. Sometimes the needles are twirled or manipulated by hand, and sometimes needles aren’t used at all, but trigger points are massaged instead.
Can Acupuncture help my condition?
The best answer will come from an experienced practitioner like Dr. Bardwell who will examine your medical history, condition, and what other treatments you have been or are receiving, and then decide whether acupuncture is suitable by itself or as adjunctive therapy. If traditional treatment according to a Western diagnosis isn’t resolving your problem, is quite expensive, or has significant side effects associated with it, then acupuncture may be an alternative form of treatment.
Conditions Recommended for Acupuncture by the World Health Organization (W.H.O.)
||Disorders of the Mouth Cavity