What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is one of the oldest healing arts in China. It has been used as a major part of China’s healthcare for thousands of years. Western medicine has slowly been accepting and incorporating the use of acupuncture in treating diseases and disorders. When acupuncture is performed by a chiropractic acupuncturist, treatment is administered by a doctor trained and licensed in chiropractic who has done training in acupuncture as a specialty practice. The doctor will use acupuncture and the chiropractic adjustment in conjunction with each other to treat numerous conditions.
Acupuncture vs Dry needling
These two therapies are very similar, and often confused. Dry needling is the insertion of needles without injecting fluid into the body, hence the “dry” part of the name. The goal of dry needling is to release tight muscles, and can be a great treatment for trigger points, or muscle knots. Dry needling is primarily used to decrease muscle tension and stiffness, and decrease pain. Acupuncture on the other hand, is the insertion of needles into acupuncture points that are along specific meridians of the body.
How it works:
Acupuncture works through a variety of ways to promote tissue healing, as well as pain reduction. When acupuncture needles are inserted, the body registers them as an irritant. It is not enough of an irritant to cause inflammation, but it does alert the immune system in a way that allows the body to send in the immune response needed to help heal the tissue. Through this process it also helps to increase blood flow to the area, and relax tight muscles. Pain reduction works by two main processes. First is called the gait control theory. This theory says that the brain recognizes one source of pain. By inserting a needle, a fast sharp pain, your brain registers that, and ignores the chronic dull achy pain. The other main way pain reduction is accomplished is by modulating the nervous system. When needles are inserted your body releases natural pain killers that assist in the pain control process for a more extended relief. In special circumstances, Dr. Derek may add in electo-acupuncture, which is another electrical modality to help amplify the response. Electo-acupuncture is especially helpful in the case of muscle spasms, or extreme muscle tension.
Does acupuncture hurt?
It is common to feel the pinch of the needle as it is being inserted, but this pinch typically dissipates within a few seconds. In some instances, when a tissue is already in an irritated state some points may feel more sensitive than others. For example, if your low back is hurting, and hurts to touch, putting a needle in that spot may feel more painful. This pain typically dissipates within a minute or two. At times you may feel a deep achy sensation, pressure, numbness, tingling, heaviness, or warm sensation. This is known as Deqi sensation, and is an important part of attaining the sought after analgesia (pain relief).
How long does a session take?
Different conditions require different lengths of treatment, but typically you will lay comfortably with the needles inserted for 20 minutes. You can plan to be at the clinic for about a half hour to complete the whole process.
Are there any side effects?
Some patients report feeling light headed, or a little dizzy. This is usually mild, and often feels like being woken up from a deep nap. Some patients will feel tired after the session, and usually sleep very well the night of the treatment. These symptoms are not usually long lasting, nor are they too severe to interfere with your day.
How many sessions will I need?
This is very dependent on the condition being treated, and how your body responds to the treatment. Sometimes patients have great relief with one session, while others may require 6-8 session. After a thorough history and exam Dr. Derek will have a treatment plan in place, and will be able to address this with you.