28 Acupuncture Facts That Might Help Ease Your Pain

Akinwalere Olaleye
Oct 11, 2023 By Akinwalere Olaleye
Originally Published on Feb 18, 2022
Be aware of acupuncture facts before taking advantage of this treatment.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.5 Min

When you experience neck pain, you visit a doctor.

In ancient China, when someone experienced pain, they visited an acupuncturist. A person specializing in acupuncture treatments.

Acupuncture is an oriental medicinal practice often used as a substitute to western medicine. The Chinese believed that the body is made up of acupuncture points. These points or pathways are responsible for energy flowing inside the body. If a point gets blocked, then the energy is disrupted. If energy is disrupted, health issues start occurring. So, to heal a health problem or get rid of pain, you need to open up or recharge the blocked point. This is done through special acupuncture needles, which are inserted in the necessary points. The needles are thin and cause bare minimum pain on insertion. However, it will depend on the acupuncturist's knowledge and experience level. Acupuncture treatment helps relieve pain such as low back pain and tension headaches and builds the body's immunity post-surgery.

Here are 17 facts about this traditional Chinese medicine.

What is acupuncture?

Before western medicine, different cultures developed their own ways of treating medical issues and relieving pain. In China, the practice of acupuncture was developed to maintain the energy flow in the body as the Chinese believed that any disruptions in the energy balance result in medical ailments.

  • Acupuncture is an oriental medicinal practice that uses specialized needles to heal various physical and mental issues. These issues can range from muscle cramps to insomnia.
  • According to the National Health Service (NHS), the initial acupuncture sessions may last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. During this session, the acupuncturist, apart from the acupuncture treatment, will ask you about your medical history, diet, lifestyle, and so on.
  • Every person reacts to the acupuncture treatment in their own manner. Some people will immediately start feeling relaxed or reducing pain with the first acupuncture treatment session. Others may experience an intensifying of existing symptoms, emotions, and fatigue. This is probably because of underlying issues being provoked. People in the latter category may start questioning the acupuncture treatment, but it is best to continue.
  • Improvement in health condition is generally experienced after two or three sessions. But this will depend on the severity of the condition and the individual.
  • To maximize the benefits of acupuncture treatment, you should take a rest, eat healthily, drink lots of water, avoid too much exercise, avoid caffeine or alcohol, apply heat packs, or best get a massage. By doing so, you ensure that the toxins released during the acupuncture session are flushed out of your body.
  • The success rate of acupuncture for treating health conditions is unclear. There are specific studies conducted to evaluate the efficacy of such treatments at a micro-level. For example, a study checking the effectiveness of acupuncture in improving non-oncological pain revealed the average success rate to be 79.7%, with cephalalgia patients showing a success rate of 93%. Studies have also shown that acupuncture may also help women undergoing in vitro fertilization or IVF.
  • No scientific evidence exists that confirms the presence of meridians in the body. However, many studies have showcased the usefulness of this oriental medicine in healing certain painful conditions. However, there have been cases where side effects of this acupuncture treatment have been reported. For example, a case of peroneal nerve palsy has been reported due to the breaking of the needle.
  • There are some cases where you need to avoid acupuncture. These include when suffering from epilepsy or any other seizure disorders, using a pacemaker, bleeding disorders, using blood thinners, and suffering from skin infections. If pregnant, you need to avoid using acupuncture needles to prepone delivery and generally, in and around the abdominal or lumbosacral area.

Origin And History Of Acupuncture

Acupuncture medicine originated in China with records dating back to 100 BC. The historical timeline of acupuncture tracks its rise, fall, and revival as a healing medium.

  • This traditional Chinese medicinal form can be traced around 100 BC. While today, thin needles are used for acupuncture treatment, in the past, sharp stones or long bones have been used to apply pressure on the acupuncture points. The same instruments may have been used for performing simple surgeries like removing an abscess.
  • As per acupuncture theory, the body is made up of pathways by which energy flows (known as Qi and pronounced as 'chee'). There are 12 main channels or meridians by which energy flows. The channels represent the vital organs but do not necessarily follow the nerve or blood flow system.
  • The sealed documents recovered from the tomb of Mawangdui, China, mentioned these meridians. However, there was no mention of acupuncture in these 198 BC documents. Signs of a form of stimulatory treatment used were found in Ötzi, the Ice Man. He died in 3230 BC, and his body was discovered when the alpine glacier thawed.
  • The practice of acupuncture solidified and flourished during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644 AD). It was in this great period that The Great Compendium of Acupuncture and Moxibustion was published, and this book specified the 365 acupuncture points. For teaching purposes, bronze statues depicting acupuncture points were developed.
  • However, the traditional practice faced much criticism during the 17th century and was majorly labeled as superstitious medicine. By 1822, the Emperor excluded acupuncture from the Imperial Medical Institute. As western medicine started arriving, the practice of acupuncture further declined. Finally, in 1929, acupuncture, along with other oriental forms of medicine, was outlawed by the Chinese government.
  • In 1949, acupuncture was revived by the Chinese Communist government. Many research institutes for acupuncture were established, and the practice started being used in hospitals for treatment purposes. By the sixth century, acupuncture had spread to nearby Asian countries like Japan and Korea. An East India Company member, Ten Rhijne, is known to have described the practice around 1680.
  • When a US Corps member was treated with acupuncture after emergency surgery for appendicitis in China, he went back home and described his experience favorably. So, by the 19th to 20th century, acupuncture started garnering interest as an alternate medicine form in the US and Europe. In the USA, acupuncture was formally accepted when the National Institute of Health reported positive results from this practice in one of their conferences.
Acupuncture needles need to be sterilized and correctly inserted.

Purpose Of Using Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine used to heal chronic pain. This oriental medicine is used in pain management for various ailments.

  • As per traditional Chinese medicine, there are around 2000 acupuncture points on the body. These points on the body create Qi (energy flow) and are responsible for health. When the thin needles are inserted in these points, any disruption in energy flow is improved upon.
  • A healthy body will have no disruption in its energy flow. So, you remain disease-free when your energies are in balance. According to Chinese medicine, acupuncture treatment helps in alleviating the pain or preventing health issues from occurring.
  • Acupuncture points work by stimulating the Central Nervous System (CNS), which results in biochemical changes taking place in the mind, body, and muscles. These changes work on stimulating the natural healing abilities of the body. Thus, promoting physical and emotional well-being.
  • Acupuncture is used to heal a number of health issues like neck pain, knee pain, low back pain, migraines, and so on. While there is not much research on the effectiveness of this practice, users have experienced relief in pain symptoms immediately after acupuncture treatments. Of course, the efficacy of acupuncture treatments would also depend on an individual's body and condition.
  • There are a number of things to keep in mind before opting for acupuncture treatment. As the practice involves inserting needles into the body, it is important to visit a licensed acupuncturist. This can ensure the professional ability of the practitioner and the use of sterile needles. If you are planning on taking this form of Chinese medicine to complement your western medicine and treatment, do check with your doctor first.

Health Benefits Of Using Acupuncture

Acupuncture treatment may give you relief from specific health issues. However, there are not many studies proving the actual impact of this alternative medicine in treating painful conditions. The acupuncture treatment is also likely to vary from individual to individual. Here are some common health conditions for which people visit an acupuncturist for treatment.

  • Among studies on alternative medicine to treat low back pain, acupuncture treatment has been known to be effective. Your low back pain may become less and better immediately after treatment. However, there is no clear evidence on how effective treatment real acupuncture is for low back pain.
  • Acupuncture also provides immediate relief from leg or muscle cramps. The energized needles help in improving blood circulation, relieving muscle spasms, and hence, relaxing the body.
  • Research has shown that acupuncture treatment can help in reducing the symptoms associated with migraines. In fact, this alternate medicine is seen as equally effective as normal migraine medications. Even in the case of tension headaches, research shows that around six acupuncture sessions can reduce the frequency of pain.
  • Acupuncture treatment has been seen as effective in knee pain management. This treatment has been known to be effective, especially with regard to knee osteoarthritis and those who have undergone knee replacement surgery.
  • People also visit an acupuncturist to treat facial issues. This is referred to as cosmetic acupuncture. The goal of these treatments is to improve skin elasticity and overall face-based issues.
  • Acupuncture is also used to build eye health. In an age where most of the time is spent in front of a computer or phone screen, eye strain is a common ailment faced by both young and old. Deteriorating eye health can be improved with the help of acupuncture treatments.
  • Research has shown the impact of acupuncture on patients suffering from neurological ailments like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's Disease. According to some studies, neurological patients' motor and language skills have improved with medical acupuncture.
  • Acupuncture has also been used to regulate and manage common digestive issues like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), gastritis, constipation, diarrhea, and so on.
  • Another health benefit of acupuncture is extra healing or recovery after undergoing a lengthy medical procedure for serious ailments like cancer. Acupuncture treatment supports and boosts the immune system aiding in the body's natural healing abilities.

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Written by Akinwalere Olaleye

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Akinwalere Olaleye picture

Akinwalere OlaleyeBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

As a highly motivated, detail-oriented, and energetic individual, Olaleye's expertise lies in administrative and management operations. With extensive knowledge as an Editor and Communications Analyst, Olaleye excels in editing, writing, and media relations. Her commitment to upholding professional ethics and driving organizational growth sets her apart. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Benin, Edo State. 

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