How is acupuncture performed?

Jill Blakeway, MS, LAc
Alternative & Complementary Medicine

During acupuncture, a specialist determines the acupoints to focus on per patient consultation; needles are inserted and the patient lies down quietly for 15-20 minutes. Watch as acupuncturist Jill Blakeway describes how acupuncture is performed.

Maryanne Lane LMT NCTMB
Integrative Medicine

Needles are inserted along meridians of energy. There are 14 meridians and each has emotions and organ related to them.

When the practitioner figures out which are involved based upon paperwork the client has filled out they formulate a treatment plan and then insert the needles in specific points. You then lay there and rest for 20 -30 minutes while the blockages are removed.

Think of the needles as power poles and they need time to reconnect the wires point to point.

Acupuncture is the insertion of one or more dry needles into the skin and underlying tissues at specific acupuncture points. By gently twisting or stimulating the needles, a measurable release of endorphins (the body's natural opioids) may go into the bloodstream; energy blocks are removed and the flow of energy along the meridians is restored.

Various endorphins block incoming pain information through the release of serotonin and norepinephrine.  Some researchers suggest that peripheral nerve stimulation can modify functional responses within the brain. In this way, the person's pain tolerance is increased so that one acupuncture treatment in some individuals may last weeks in helping to alleviate chronic pain. Studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters that stimulate or inhibit nerve impulses in the brain that relay information about external stimuli and sensations (such as pain) in a good way.

Another form of stimulating the acupuncture points once the needle is in place is through hooking up small wires connected to very slight electrical currents.  This is known as electro‑acupuncture.  Heat (moxibustion) and massage (acupressure) can be used during this process.

Laser acupuncture is yet another off-shoot of this alternative therapy and is particularly well-suited for the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome. While it uses the same points, there are no needles involved.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.