Advances in science have given us some pretty incredible treatment options for the health problems that plague us. But as technology marches forward, more doctors and scientists are discovering that ancient therapies such as acupuncture still hold powerful healing for our modern ailments.
A practice inherited from traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is based on the idea that energy flows along specific pathways through the body, and illness or loss of function occurs when the flow becomes blocked. To facilitate a healthy flow of energy, acupuncturists insert very thin needles into the skin at strategic points on the body, stimulating the natural self-healing process.
For many patients in Portland, acupuncture has become increasingly popular as a versatile and helpful tool for maintaining good health—and that’s true for the rest of the nation, as well. The number of visits to acupuncturists increased 32 percent from 2002 to 2007, and today more than 3 million people receive acupuncture treatments each year.
As a growing body of research continues to prove acupuncture effective at treating a wide variety of ailments, more Western doctors have begun to embrace it. More than 3,000 U.S. physicians incorporate acupuncture into their clinical practice.
Just 40 years ago, “acupuncture was considered at best a superstition,” says author James Gordon, M.D. “Now, it’s increasingly being accepted as part of mainstream medicine.”
Getting Acupuncture Treatment
A typical acupuncture appointment will begin with a discussion about the patient’s health history, followed by an examination of the tongue’s shape, color and coating. The practitioner will also feel the patient’s pulse and may perform other physical exams as needed. Using the information gathered, the acupuncturist will determine a specific treatment plan.
To begin treatment, the patient lies on a table while thin needles are precisely placed to stimulate specific locations throughout the body. These may be left in for as little as five minutes or as long as half an hour. Most feel minimal to no discomfort, and patients often report feeling extremely relaxed both during and after treatment.
The acupuncturist may also enhance the treatment with additional techniques such as pressure, massage, heat therapy, cupping or application of topical herbs.
Some patients experience dramatic results after the first treatment, while others can take a bit longer. The number of treatments required varies from person to person, but typical complex or long-standing chronic conditions will often require one to two treatments per week for several months, while acute problems might be resolved after just eight to 10 visits.
What Can Acupuncture Do for You?
Because it focuses on releasing blocked energy, supporting harmonious function of the body’s systems, acupuncture can provide benefits when treating a wide range of problems. Some people even see their acupuncturists two to four times a year for a “tune-up” to help promote their overall health, energy and vitality, said acupuncturist Diane Joswick.
“Modern research has demonstrated acupuncture’s effects on the nervous system, endocrine and immune systems, cardiovascular system, and digestive system,” according to UC San Diego’s Center for Integrative Medicine. “By stimulating the body’s various systems, acupuncture can help to resolve pain and improve sleep, digestive function and sense of well-being.”
At Northwest Primary Care, our Portland physicians recommend this traditional Chinese technique as either a complementary or alternative treatment option for:
Acute or chronic pain management. For patients seeking alternatives to medication, acupuncture can help relieve pain and discomfort associated with sprains, strains, migraines, whiplash, painful joints, menopause, gynecological problems and other acute or chronic pain.
Respiratory ailments. Portland acupuncture specialists can also treat respiratory issues such as colds, flu, respiratory allergies, asthma and sinusitis.
Digestive problems. Patients with food allergies and chronic digestive problems can also find relief through acupuncture treatment.
Mood disorders. Acupuncture can help alleviate symptoms associated with stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia.
Interested in exploring how acupuncture might help meet your health care needs? Talk to a Portland physician to learn more about whether this healing method could be right for you.