Acupuncture

 

 Acupuncture originates from China and has been practiced there for thousands of years. Although there are records of acupuncture being used hundreds of years ago in Europe, it was during the second half of the twentieth century it began to spread rapidly in Western Europe, Canada and United States. Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles through the patient's skin at specific points on the body the needles are inserted to various depths. We are not sure how acupuncture works scientifically. However, we do know that it does have some therapeutic benefits, including pain relief and alleviation from nausea caused by chemotherapy.

 According to traditional Chinese medical theory, acupuncture points are located on meridians through which gi vital energy runs. There is no histological, anatomical or scientific proof that these meridians or acupuncture points exist. Acupuncture remains controversial among Western medical doctors and scientists. Creating case studies that use proper scientific controls is difficult because of the invasive nature of acupuncture  - a clinical study involves a placebo (sham product) compared to the targeted treatment. It is very hard to devise a sham acupuncture control that one can compare to proper acupuncture.  While some studies have concluded that acupuncture offers similar benefits to a patient as a placebo, others have indicated that there are some real benefits.

 According to WHO (World Health Organization) acupuncture is effective for treating 28 conditions, while evidence indicates it may have an effective therapeutic value for many more. People with tension headaches and/or migraines may find acupuncture to be very effective in alleviating their symptoms, according to a study carried out at the Technical University of Munich, Germany. Another study at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center found that twice weekly acupuncture treatments relieve debilitating symptoms of xerostomia - severe dry mouth - among patients treated with radiation for head and neck cancer.

What are the benefits and risks of acupuncture?

All therapies have benefits and risks.

The benefits of acupuncture are:

  • When performed correctly it is safe
  • There are very few side effects
  • It is a very effective combination treatment
  • It is effective in controlling some types of pain
  • It may be considered for patients who do not respond to pain medications
  • It is a useful alternative for patients who do not want to take pain medications

The risks of acupuncture are:

  • It is dangerous if the patient has a bleeding disorder
  • It the dangerous if the patient is taking blood thinners
  • There may be bleeding, bruising and soreness at the insertion sites
  • The needle may break and damage an internal organ (very rare)
  • Unsterilized needles may infect the patient
  • When inserted deeply into the chest or upper back there is a risk of collapsed lung (very rare)
Last modified on Tuesday, 15 April 2014 21:33
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