A Modern Look at Traditional Acupuncture
Acupuncture has been around for centuries originating in ancient China over 2000 years ago. It involves inserting fine needles into muscles. Traditional explanations as to why acupuncture works involve stimulating points along “meridians” to influence “qi” energy and promote healing. Only in recent years are we beginning to apply modern explanations to its effects using current understandings of how our body works.
Effects of Acupuncture:
Local Tissue effect: needles stimulate local nerve endings which release several chemical substances leading to increase blood flow. Local acupuncture can also inactivate trigger points. Trigger points or trigger bands are areas of hyperactivity within a muscle and can result in pain. It can often be felt as a tight “knot” or “band” within a muscle.
Segmental effect: Every area of the body is supplied by nerves arising from spinal segments. By stimulating the spinal region supplying the painful area or stimulating muscles that share motor or sensory innervation we can essentially dull the pain signal.
General or “central” effects: Acupuncture also influences the brain. Our emotional responses to pain are a result of how our brain interprets and processes the signals it receives. Acupuncture has been shown to modulate activity in these processing centers of the brain. This can be especially beneficial for those in chronic pain who have become hypersensitized to painful stimuli.
What does this mean?
There are varying degrees of evidence to support the theories of why acupuncture work. Acupuncture benefits are most likely due to a combination of the above-mentioned effects and possibly more we currently do not have a good understanding of yet.
How we use it?
Acupuncture is just one of the tools we use at All Systems. Acupuncture’s systemic effects make it useful in treating chronic conditions as these individuals’ nervous systems become sensitized to pain signals. Some of the conditions we have found acupuncture useful in are headaches including migraine headaches, osteoarthritis and myofascial pain with associated trigger points.
White A, Cummings TM, Filshie J, editors. An introduction to western medical acupuncture. (2018)