Acupuncture is a non-drug, non-invasive therapy that may produce a variety of benefits—from pain management to helping with nausea associated with chemotherapy. According to the 2002 National Health Interview Survey, an estimated 8.2 million Americans have been to an acupuncturist, and an estimated 2.1 million U.S. adults used acupuncture in the previous year. Since the use of acupuncture has spread widely in the U.S. in the past 20 years, researchers are studying the benefits of acupuncture for many conditions, including low-back pain, headaches, and osteoarthritis of the knee. The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture as being a viable treatment option for many conditions. You may read about the WHO and its acupuncture statement here.
Acupuncture may be useful as an independent treatment for some conditions, but it can also be used as a complement to other healthcare therapies.
During your first office visit, the doctor may ask you for details related to your health condition, lifestyle, and behavior. Be sure to tell the us about all treatments or medications you are taking and all conditions you have. While acupuncture as a treatment method may take on different styles, a typical visit includes an exam and assessment of your condition, insertion of needles, and advice on home care. Before the needles are placed, you will lie down on a comfortable surface face down, face up, or on your side, depending on where the needles will be inserted. Usually the procedure isn't painful; however, you may feel a brief, sharp sensation when the needle is inserted and when it reaches the correct depth. Sometimes, the needles are gently moved or stimulated with electricity or heat. Each treatment may require the insertion of as many as 12 needles, which stay in place for 5 to 20 minutes.
- Has few side effects
- Can be a useful complement to other therapies
- Beneficial for problems such as tobacco addiction or infertility
- Helps control certain types of pain