Acupuncture is a procedure that comes from traditional Chinese medicine. In China, it has been practiced for hundreds of years. Acupuncture is based on the belief that the body contains a life force called “chi.” This source of energy flows through the body via pathways known as meridians. Eastern philosophy indicates that when one of these meridians is unstable, blocked, or imbalanced, illness occurs as a result. Acupuncture is one way of restoring the balance of chi energy in the body and thereby curing illnesses. It involves placing tiny needles into the skin in a particular area of the body in order to improve the flow of energy in that area. In some cases, heat, pressure, or a mild electrical current is applied simultaneously.


Acupuncture begins with an initial consultation. The acupuncturist conducts an exam and asks questions about your symptoms and your overall functioning. He or she will then look at the various points on the body that offer access to blocked chi. Each point relates to a particular function or health issue. When the practitioner is aware of the point, he or she will place several thin needles into your skin. Needles may be placed deeper according to the condition. Treatment may last from fifteen minutes to one hour, with most practitioners requiring that you come for more than one visit to finish the course of treatment.

Hand Stimulating Acupuncture Needle


Acupuncture may be used to treat a wide array of different health conditions and ailments. It may be part of a comprehensive treatment program. While the effectiveness of acupuncture may vary according to the condition it is being used to treat, a number of studies have shown that acupuncture is a promising form of complementary therapy. It may be used to treat vomiting and nausea related to chemotherapy, post-surgery pain, and pregnancy. It may also be used to treat painful conditions, such as headaches, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia lower back pain, dental pain, and labor pain. It is also being investigated as a possible treatment for symptoms of withdrawal typically associated with drug addiction.

Close-up of acupuncture needle on an ear.

Risks & Safety

When people think about acupuncture, many worry that it is painful. However, because the needles are both tiny and not inserted very deeply into the skin, most people find that the procedure does not hurt. During an acupuncture session, you are more likely to feel tingling, numbness, or itching in the area with the needle. Practitioners believe that this is a sign that chi energy is flowing. In order to ensure your own safety, you should only receive acupuncture treatments from a certified practitioner. One of the main issues related to acupuncture is the sterility of the needles. Certified practitioners must throw away their needles after one use. You should check with your practitioner to ensure he or she uses sterile needles.

Acupuncture is an ancient form of treatment that is believed to manipulate the body’s chi. Regardless of how it works, studies have shown that it is an effective form of treatment for several conditions. In the United States, acupuncture has become a more popular form of alternative therapy in recent years.