About a third of the credentialed acupuncturists in the United States as of are MDs. Acupuncture's record of success has been sufficiently impressive to stimulate a number of research projects investigating its mechanisms as well as its efficacy. In a consensus panel of the National Institutes of Health NIH presented a landmark report in which it described acupuncture as a sufficiently promising form of treatment to merit further study.
In , the British Medical Association BMA recommended that acupuncture should be made more readily available through the National Health Service NHS , and that family doctors should be trained in some of its techniques. As already noted, the purpose of acupuncture in TCM is the rebalancing of opposing energy forces in different parts of the body. In Western terms, acupuncture is used most commonly as an adjunctive treatment for the relief of chronic or acute pain.
In the United States, acupuncture is most widely used to treat pain associated with musculoskeletal disorders, but it has also been used in the treatment of substance abuse, and to relieve nausea and vomiting. A study done in showed that acupuncture was highly effective in stopping the intense vomiting associated with a condition in pregnant women known as hyperemesis gravidarum.
In the past several years, acupuncture has been tried with a new patient population, namely children with chronic pain syndromes. In addition to these disorders, acupuncture has been used in the United States to treat asthma, infertility, depression, anxiety, HIV infection, fibromyalgia, menstrual cramps, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, pitcher's shoulder, chronic fatigue syndrome, and postoperative pain. It has even been used in veterinary medicine to treat chronic pain and prevent epileptic convulsions in animals.
As of , NCCAM is sponsoring research regarding the effectiveness of acupuncture in the rehabilitation of stroke patients. The exact Western medicine mechanism by which acupuncture works is not known. Western researchers have suggested three basic explanations of acupuncture's efficacy in pain relief:. In addition to its efficacy in relieving pain and other chronic conditions, acupuncture has gained in popularity because of several additional advantages:.
Acupuncture sites and meridians on the face and neck.
Although the risk of infection in acupuncture is minimal, patients should make sure that the acupuncturist uses sterile disposable needles. The needles must be clearly labeled as having their use restricted to qualified practitioners. Patients should also inquire about the practitioner's credentials. Since acupuncture is now taught in over forty accredited medical schools and osteopathic colleges in the United States, patients who would prefer to be treated by an MD or an osteopath can obtain a list of licensed physicians who practice acupuncture in their area from the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture.
With regard to nonphysician acupuncturists, 31 states have established training standards that acupuncturists must meet in order to be licensed in those states. In Great Britain, practitioners must qualify by passing a course offered by the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board. Patients seeking acupuncture treatment should provide the practitioner with the same information about their health conditions and other forms of treatment that they would give their primary care doctor.
This information should include other alternative and complementary therapies, especially herbal remedies. Acupuncture should not be used to treat severe traumatic injuries and other emergency conditions requiring immediate surgery. In addition, it does not appear to be useful in smoking cessation programs.
As is true with other forms of medical treatment, a minority of patients do not respond to acupuncture. The reasons for nonresponsiveness are not known at the present stage of research.
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In traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture treatment begins with a thorough physical examination in which the practitioner evaluates the patient's skin color, vocal tone, and tongue color and coating. The practitioner then takes the patient's pulse at six locations and three depth levels on each wrist. These thirty-six pulse measurements will tell the practitioner where the qi in the patient's body might be blocked or unbalanced. After collecting this information, the acupuncturist will then identify the patterns of energy disturbance and the acupuncture Traditional Chinese medicine teachings state that channels of energy flow throughout the body, and that disease is caused by too much or too little flow of energy along these channels.
Points along the channels, called meridians, are manipulated in acupuncture. Illustration by Electronic Illustrators Group. Up to ten or twelve acupuncture needles will be inserted at strategic points along the relevant meridians.
Traditional Chinese Medicine: A Comprehensive Healthcare System
In traditional Chinese practice, the needles are twirled or rotated as they are inserted. Many patients feel nothing at all during this procedure, although others experience a prickling or mild aching sensation, and still others a feeling of warmth or heaviness. The practitioner may combine acupuncture with moxibustion to increase the effectiveness of the treatment. Moxibustion is a technique in which the acupuncturist lights a small piece of wormwood, called a moxa, above the acupuncture point above the skin. When the patient begins to feel the warmth from the burning herb, it is removed.
Cupping is another technique that is a method of stimulation of acupuncture points by applying suction through a metal, wood, or glass jar, and in which a partial vacuum has been created. Producing blood congestion at the site, the site is thus stimulated. The method is used for lower back pain, sprains, soft tissue injuries, as well as relieving fluid from the lungs in chronic bronchitis. In addition to the traditional Chinese techniques of acupuncture, the following are also used in the United States:.
Chronic conditions usually require 10 treatment sessions, but acute conditions or minor illnesses may require only one or two visits. Follow-up visits are often scheduled for patients with chronic pain.
Apart from a medical history and physical examination, no specific preparation is required for an acupuncture treatment. In addition to using sterile needles, licensed acupuncturists will wipe the skin over each acupuncture point with an antiseptic solution before inserting the needle. No particular aftercare is required, as the needles should not draw blood when properly inserted. Many patients experience a feeling of relaxation or even a pleasant drowsiness after the treatment. Some patients report feeling energized.
Several American and British reports have concluded that the risks to the patient from an acupuncture treatment are minimal. Most complications from acupuncture fall into one of three categories: infections, most often from improperly sterilized needles; bruising or minor soft tissue injury; and injuries to muscle tissue.
Serious side effects with sterilized needles are rare, although cases of pneumothorax and cardiac tamponade have been reported in the European literature.
- Traditional Chinese medicine.
- Highlights of Colorado State Insurance Laws [Annotated];
One American pediatrician estimates that the risk of serious injury from acupuncture performed by a licensed practitioner ranges between , and ,— or about the same degree of risk as a negative reaction to penicillin. Abnormal results from acupuncture include infection, a severe side effect, or worsening of the condition being treated. Pelletier, Kenneth R. New York: Simon and Schuster, Reid, Daniel P. Each branch of acupuncture consists of many different techniques which are fully illustrated in this text to facilitate applications.
The illustrations should prove helpful to acupuncturists Chinese acupuncture consists of many branches, including body acupuncture, auricular acupuncture, scalp acupuncture, face acupuncture pricking therapy, and skin scraping therapy, etc. The illustrations should prove helpful to acupuncturists who want to master the techniques in their clinical practice.
Welcome to the British Acupuncture Council
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