Acupuncture is a form of treatment that involves inserting very thin needles through a person’s skin at specific points on the body, to various depths. Research suggests that it can help relieve pain, and it is used for a wide range of other complaints.
Research carried out in Germany has shown that acupuncture may help relieve tension headaches and migraines.
The NCCIH note that it has been proven to helpTrusted Source in cases of:
- low back pain
- neck pain
- knee pain
- headache and migraine
They list additional disorders that may benefit from acupuncture, but which require further scientific confirmation.
In 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) listed a number of conditions in which they say acupuncture has been proven effective.
- high and low blood pressure
- chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
- some gastric conditions, including peptic ulcer
- painful periods
- allergic rhinitis
- facial pain
- morning sickness
- rheumatoid arthritis
- tennis elbow
- dental pain
- reducing the risk of stroke
- inducing labor
Other conditions for which the WHO say that acupuncture may help but more evidence is needed include:
- post-operative convalescence
- substance, tobaccor and alcohol dependence
- spine pain
- stiff neck
- vascular dementia
- whooping cough, or pertussis
- Tourette syndrome
The WHO also suggests that it may help treat a number of infections, including some urinary tract infections and epidemic hemorrhagic fever.
They point out, however, that “only national health authorities can determine the diseases, symptoms, and conditions for which acupuncture treatment can be recommended.”
Benefits of Acupuncture
Acupuncture can be beneficial in that:
- Performed correctly, it is safe.
- There are very few side effects.
- It can be effectively combined with other treatments.
- It can control some types of pain.
- It may help patients for whom pain medications are not suitable.
The NCCIH advise people not to use acupuncture instead of seeing a conventional health care provider.
What is acupuncture and how does it help?
Acupuncture points are believed to stimulate the central nervous system. This, in turn, releases chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These biochemical changes may stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being.
What is acupuncture used to treat?
What conditions are commonly treated by acupuncture? Hundreds of clinical studies on the benefits of acupuncture show that it successfully treats conditions ranging from musculoskeletal problems (back pain, neck pain, and others) to nausea, migraine headache, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and infertility.
What are the negative side effects of acupuncture?
The most common side effects of acupuncture include bleeding, soreness, or bruising at the site of needle insertion. Other risks of acupuncture include dizziness, fainting, local internal bleeding, convulsions, hepatitis B, dermatitis, nerve damage, increased pain, and very rarely injury to an internal organ.
How does acupuncture work for pain?
Traditional Chinese acupuncture involves the insertion of extremely fine needles into the skin at specific “acupoints.” This may relieve pain by releasing endorphins, the body’s natural pain-killing chemicals, and by affecting the part of the brain that governs serotonin, a brain chemical involved with mood.