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Acupuncture (needle therapy) involves the insertion of single-use sterile fine needles at specific points on the body and may include twirling the needles or other stimulation of the needles while in place. We practice traditional Chinese medical needle therapy at our Scottsdale clinic.
Pain or disease of tissues generally involves restriction of blood flow through the ailing tissue or organ, which starves the tissue, organ, or gland of nutrients, resulting in impaired metabolism.
The acupoints generally lie adjacent to neural bundles. When we insert a needle, this stimulates a nerve impulse to the central nervous system, which relays the impulse to the region of the body that needs therapeutic attention. Twirling the needle also may activate a very weak current through the fascia.
Needling generally generates a parasympathetic (rest and digest) neuroendocrine response. In other words, it causes the whole system to lose tension and relax deeply. This allows the body to heal itself.
Specific points stimulate an increase of flow of blood to and from the ailing area. Increased blood flow brings in oxygen and nutrients while removing waste products of metabolism.
Increased oxygen supply allows the ailing tissues to "breathe" and generate energy ("qi", pronounced "chee"), increased nutrient supply allows repairs to take place, and removal of toxins reverses inflammatory processes that damage tissues, organs and glands.
In short, therapeutic needling works by inducing a relaxation response and increasing the flow of fresh, oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to starved tissues, organs, and glands.
Research at the University of Michigan indicates that therapeutic needling also improves the brain's opioid binding ability, which allows your body's natural opioids to regulate pain without drugs.
Take a look at our page "Conditions Acupuncture Can Treat" to get a full list of conditions that needle therapy can treat.
Needled points may feel sore, achy, numb, heavy, distended, or swollen; often it causes a slight spasm-like sensation in the local muscles; this signifies "arrival of qi" (chee) and good treatment effect. Generally within 5-10 minutes of needle insertions, you will feel deeply relaxed and may fall asleep during the treatment period.
Needle therapy generally has a high level of safety but certain minor adverse effects may result, including but not limited to: local bruising, minor bleeding, dizziness, fainting, pain, or aggravation of symptoms existing prior to treatment.
Needling points over the rib cage (lungs) involves a very rare potential risk of pneumothorax. No licensed acupuncturist holding a NCCAOM certification has ever caused a pneumothorax by needle therapy. The few cases that have occurred were performed by medical doctors or unlicensed individuals administering acupuncture incorrectly.
In my practice I rarely use points over the lungs. Primarily I use points on the arms and legs below the elbows or knees. Many years of experience have demonstrated that these points generally have excellent therapeutic effect with minimal risk.
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