Acupuncture involves penetration of the skin with needles to stimulate certain points on the body known as acupuncture points or acupoint. The specific acupoint corrects imbalances in the flow of qi or body energy through channels known as meridians. These meridians are linked to specific (Traditional Chinese Medicine) TCM organs functions that vary according to the presenting complaint. Acupoints are selected after a consultation and TCM diagnosis. These acupoints may be located in area local to the condition and some may be further away. The general theory of acupuncture is based on the premise that bodily functions are regulated by an energy called qi which flows through the body. A disruption of this flow of qi is believed to be result in diseases and aliments. Acupuncture corrects the imbalances of flow of qi by stimulation of anatomical locations on or under the skin. A fine thin disposable needle is used to penetrate the skin and is manipulated manually or by electrical stimulation.
Acupuncture use for certain conditions have been endorsed by the United States National Institutes of Health, the National Health Service of the United Kingdom, the World Health Organization and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Acupuncture carries a very low risk of serious adverse effects. Risks and side effects When conducted by a qualified practitioner, acupuncture is safe. Mild, short-lasting side effects occur in around 7-11% of patients. These include:
- pain where the needles puncture the skin
- bleeding or bruising where the needles puncture the skin
- worsening of pre-existing symptoms
Serious complications from treatment, such as infections or damage to tissue or puncturing organs are extremely rare. They usually occur only as a result of bad practice, carried out by an acupuncturist who has not been properly trained. Electro- Acupuncture would not be used in situations such as cardiac problems, with users of a pacemaker, young children and in some cases, pregnancy.