Acupuncture, an almost risk free and minimally invasive form of therapy, is an ideal form of therapy for geriatric patients, pain management, neurological patients as well as those recovering from surgery or injury. Considering my patients are not human the “placebo effect” argument becomes irrelevant. Some patients respond and others do not, only time and observation will tell in each case, however, due to the fact that I cause no deleterious effects I am happy to perform therapy.
Very fine needles ranging from 0.12mm to 0.35mm are placed in specific anatomical locations which treat and address specific issues. These points are nerve-rich areas of the skin surface which influence tissues, gland, organs and various functions of the body. After the needle is inserted, there may be a transient sharp pain that dulls to an ache at the base of the needle thereafter subsiding. It may be more painful in regions of severe muscle spasm, however, it provides relief shortly thereafter.
The stimulation of these points leads to the release of opioids and other peptides in the central nervous system and the periphery as well as changes in neuroendocrine function. Acupuncture also stimulates the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain-killing chemicals, as well as affecting the part of the brain that governs serotonin, a brain chemical involved with mood. Acupuncture improves circulation promoting vasodilation, the normal function of the immune system, wound healing and pain modulation.
In some instances, needles are stimulated with heat or electricity. Needles stay in place for between 5 and 30 minutes. The number of treatments needed and frequency thereof depends on the individual. A patient with a chronic condition may need one to two treatments a week over several months. An acute problem normally improves after 8 to 12 sessions. I usually perform 1 to 2 sessions per week for 3 weeks thereafter assessing response and frequency of treatments required thereafter.