FAQs on Acupuncture in Atlanta

Acupuncture is the traditional Chinese medicine that involves the insertion of thin, small needles through the skin at specific points on the body. According to Chinese culture, acupuncture is mostly used to treat pain through balancing the flow of energy, which is known as qi (pronounced chee). By inserting needles into certain pathways (called meridians) in the body, acupuncture practitioners claim to re-balance energy flow.

How does acupuncture work?

Many doctors believe that acupuncture points allow for the nerves, muscle, and connective tissue to be stimulated. Stimulation is supposed to boost the body’s natural painkiller release and increase blood flow.

What conditions are treated with acupuncture?

Acupuncture is used to relieve the discomfort associated with many conditions and diseases, including:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Dental pain
  • Chemotherapy-induced and postoperative nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches, including tension and migraine headaches
  • Low back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Menstrual cramps

What are the risks associated with acupuncture?

The risks and complications of acupuncture are quite low, especially when performed by a certified, competent practitioner. Common side effects include soreness, minor bleeding, and bruising. Rare complications include organ injury and infection.

Who is a good candidate for acupuncture?

Not everyone responds to acupuncture, and some patients are not good candidates for this therapy. People who should not have acupuncture include:

  • Those with bleeding disorders
  • Anyone with a pacemaker
  • Pregnant women

What can I expect before the treatment?

Many acupuncturists blend aspects of the Western and Eastern approaches to this medical procedure. To determine which type of treatment is best for you, your practitioner may inquire about your behaviors, lifestyle, and symptoms.

He/she will also examine the shape, color, and coating of your tongue, the body parts that are painful, the strength, quality, and rhythm of your pulse, and the color of your face. The initial evaluation takes approximately 60 minutes, and the treatment sessions take around 30 minutes. The number of treatments you need depends on the severity of your condition and the type of problem you have.

How is acupuncture performed?

Acupuncture points are in many areas of the body, and do not necessary correspond with the painful region. The practitioner will explain the general site of planned treatment, and you will change into a gown. After being positioned on your stomach, the treatment involves:

  • Needle insertion – Between 5-20 small thin needles are inserted into the skin, which may produce a mild aching sensation.
  • Needle manipulation – The practitioner gently twirls and moves the needles to achieve correct placement. He/she may apply mild electrical pulses to the needles for maximum benefits.
  • Needle removal – The needles will remain in place for 15-20 minutes, as you lie still and relax. After this time, the needles are removed, which is not painful.

How effective is acupuncture?

Most people feel either relaxed or energized after an acupuncture treatment. Not everyone responds the same way. If your symptoms don’t begin to improve after a few weeks, the treatments will be stopped.

In a systematic review of randomized controlled trials, acupuncture was found to be superior to controls and placebo in the treatment of back, knee, and head pain. Patients who received acupuncture had less pain, as reported by improved pain scores. Regarding long-term outcomes, acupuncture proved to be effective for up to 12 months.

Resources

Enck, Paul; Klosterhalfen, Sibylle; Zipfel, Stephan (2010). “Acupuncture, psyche and the placebo response”. Autonomic Neuroscience 157 (1-2): 68–73. doi:10.1016/j.autneu.2010.03.005. ISSN 1566-0702. PMID 20359961.

Hopton, Ann; MacPherson, Hugh (2010). “Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: Is Acupuncture More than an Effective Placebo? A Systematic Review of Pooled Data from Meta-analyses”. Pain Practice 10 (2): 94–102. doi:10.1111/j.1533-2500.2009.00337.x. ISSN 1530-7085. PMID 20070551.

Vickers, AJ; Cronin, AM; Maschino, AC; Lewith, G; MacPherson, H; Foster, N; Sherman, N; Witt, K; Linde, C (2012). for the Acupuncture Trialists’ Collaboration. “Acupuncture for chronic pain: individual patient data meta-analysis”. JAMA Internal Medicine 12 (Suppl 1): 1444–53. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.3654. PMC 3658605. PMID 22965186.