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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Surgeries and Procedures > Acupuncture and Pain
      Category : Health Centers > Alternative Medicine

Acupuncture and Pain

Alternate Names : Needling, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Overview & Description | Preparation & Expectations | Home Care and Complications

Acupuncture literally means needle piercing. It is the practice of inserting very fine needles into the skin to stimulate specific points. This stimulation balances the movement of energy in the body.

Who is a candidate for the procedure?

When it is practiced by a qualified practitioner, acupuncture is safe for everyone. Young children often respond very well. It can even be used on pregnant women to stimulate labor and reduce labor pain. However, unnecessary procedures should be avoided during pregnancy.

The most common use of acupuncture is to treat muscle and joint pain. The technique is often applied for arthritis, back pain, sports injuries, and other similar problems.

How is the procedure performed?

Every acupuncture treatment begins with four types of examinations. These are:

  • asking. The acupuncturist first asks an individual about his or her general health.
  • looking. The practitioner will then note the person's appearance, posture, skin coloration, and tongue.
  • listening. Next, he or she will listen to the individual's breathing patterns, speech, and tone of voice.
  • smelling and touching. The last and most important of the examination involves touching the person's skin and taking an accurate pulse.
  • To receive a treatment, the person lies down on a table. He or she needs to remove enough clothing for the acupuncturist to reach the key points on the body. Very fine, sterile, stainless steel needles are inserted into the skin at the relevant points. Because the needles are so thin, they do not cause any bleeding. Other techniques can also be used as part of the acupuncture treatment. These include:

  • small electric current to stimulate specific points
  • small pen-like tools to produce an infrared low power laser beam
  • burning of herbs to warm and stimulate energy
  • ultrasound, sound waves and light waves


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    Acupuncture and Pain: Preparation & Expectations

    Author: Dr. Karen Wolfe, MBBS, MA
    Reviewer: Alison Kallman, MD
    Date Reviewed: 08/09/01

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