Acupuncture is a sample modality treating people with insertion of sterilized stainless steel needles (that are as fine as hair) thorough skin into certain location of our body.
Effect of acupuncture is for regaining the balance of Yin-yang and Five element (Liver, Heart, Spleen, Lung and Kidney). Acupuncture is not only for symptomatic control, it can help regaining physical and spiritual balance, long term healthy status and better quality of life.
Acupuncture is one of the TCM treatment modalities, especially useful for releasing muscle tightness and relieving pain. As the different approaches of TCM acupuncture, namely, Five element acupuncture, Zi Wu Liu Zu, and etc. Also, acupuncture needle might be contra-indicated in some situations, however,it could be replaced by other modality, such as acupressure, moxibustion, qua-sha and massage therapy.
Q1: Is Acupuncture different from dry needling?
A1: There are some similarities and differences between these two techniques, and please read dry needling for detail explanation.
Q2: Is acupuncture painful or not?
A2: It should not be painful in most acupuncture points. Skilful technique in inserting needling can minimise the painful sensation. However, acupuncture effects is based on DeQi feeling which includes dull, sore feeling and pins & needles. Please tell your acupuncturist for tender treatment technique for your first time of acupuncture.
Q3: What is the normal effect after acupuncture treatment?
A3: Treatment area might feel a bit soreness on the same day of needling. Please do not massage the treated area immediately after needling, as it will causes bruise. If there are persistent soreness and bruise, please call your acupuncturist for follow-up the conditions.
Q4: Any preparation for first time treatment?
A4: Light eating and enough resting before acupuncture treatment. Don't be too hungry and too tired for the treatment session. Please also bring a short trousers for exchange if lower back or leg would be treated.
Q5: How long would it take in each session? and how many sessions needed?
A6: It will take about 50mins to 1 hr for each session. Total treatment session is based on pain level and severity of underlying diseases. For example, piriformis syndrome caused sciatica would only take 1-2 sessions for pain relief, but it would take few more sessions to settle the lower back and pelvic primary pathology. Please discuss the treatment goal with your acupuncturist after consultation.
World Health Organisation list of diseases treatable with acupuncture:
1) Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which acupuncture has been proved—through controlled trials—to be an effective treatment:
Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy
Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following
Dysentery, acute bacillary
Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and
Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
Induction of labour
Low back pain
Malposition of fetus, correction of
Nausea and vomiting
Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular
Periarthritis of shoulder
2) Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which the therapeutic effect of acupuncture has been shown but for which further proof is needed:
Abdominal pain (in acute gastroenteritis or due to gastrointestinal spasm)
Alcohol dependence and detoxification
Cholecystitis, chronic, with acute exacerbation
Competition stress syndrome
Craniocerebral injury, closed
Diabetes mellitus, non-insulin-dependent
Epidemic haemorrhagic fever
Epistaxis, simple (without generalized or local disease)
Eye pain due to subconjunctival injection
Female urethral syndrome
Fibromyalgia and fasciitis
Hepatitis B virus carrier status
Herpes zoster (human (alpha) herpesvirus 3)
Male sexual dysfunction, non-organic
Opium, cocaine and heroin dependence
Pain due to endoscopic examination
Pain in thromboangiitis obliterans
Polycystic ovary syndrome (Stein–Leventhal syndrome)
Postextubation in children
Radicular and pseudoradicular pain syndrome
Raynaud syndrome, primary
Recurrent lower urinary-tract infection
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
Retention of urine, traumatic
Actually, not every conditions and diseases are suitable for acupuncture, here are some situations needs caution when considering acupuncture:
- Needle phobia
- People with hemophilia or use of blood thinners
- Pelvic region while pregnancy
- emergency for surgery
In modern medicine, acupuncture is commonly used, but the theory behind practice is totally different from TCM. The dry needling is mainly based on trigger points, without the using of TCM examination.
Lo Man Kin, William
Mr. Lo received full time training in Physiotherapy and Traditional Chinese Medicine. After working in orthopaedic clinic, he gained lot of experience in treating different kinds of pain condition. He has great interest in integrated medicine and like to explore the ancient medical knowledge. He is now also serving as the committee member of one of the course in Hong Kong St John Association, write for the column and promote acupuncture in radio program.