Acupuncture is a full system of medicine.
Acupuncture is recognized by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) as effective in the treatment of a wide variety of medical problems.
Around the world, including in China, Korea, and Japan, acupuncture is used as primary care medicine which means it can be used to treat the whole body at a systemic level. When combined with the advancements of Western Medicine, people seem to have the most benefit to cover all their healthcare needs.
At Fort Collins Family Acupuncture, we use the process of stimulating these acupuncture points of nerves, muscles and connective tissue as a way to boost your body’s natural painkillers and increase blood flow. This works to alleviate pain as well as treat other physical conditions of illness.
How does it work?
Acupuncture points are believed to stimulate the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) to release chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals either change the experience of pain or release other chemicals, such as hormones, that influence the body’s self-regulating systems. The biochemical changes may stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being through three primary means: Conduction of electromagnetic signals, activation of opioid systems, changes in brain chemistry sensation and involuntary body functions.
Is Acupuncture Safe?
Yes, acupuncture is safe when performed by a competent practitioner
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates acupuncture needles and restricts their use to licensed practitioners. The FDA requires acupuncture needles to be sterile, nontoxic, and labeled for single use.
Acupuncturists also take a required “clean needle technique” class. In developing the Clean Needle Technique Manual, experts from OSHA and the CDC were consulted to ensure that the recommendations in the manual meet current OSHA and CDC standards.
Is Acupuncture right for me?
It’s important that you feel comfortable with and knowledgeable about your health care. We pride ourselves on being clear communicators, explaining our process and diagnoses with you so you don’t feel left in the dark. If you have any questions about our services or the care we provide you, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Acupuncture Needle Placement
When an acupuncture needle is inserted into a traditional acupuncture point, certain nerve fibers are stimulated, which results in a nerve impulse being sent to the spinal cord. Here, cells are stimulated to release endorphins. These substances allow the body to block incoming pain signals.
In addition to causing effects in the spinal cord, the nerve impulse produced by the acupuncture needle is also transmitted to the mid-brain, where through a variety of chemical processes release serotonin and norepinephrine in the spinal cord. This plays a role in suppressing the transmission of the pain impulse. In addition to its role in reducing pain, serotonin is involved in producing an antidepressant effect in the brain. In fact, many of the newest antidepressant drugs work by prolonging the effect of serotonin in the brain.
A third effect brought about by acupuncture is the release of beta-endorphin and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) from the pituitary gland into the bloodstream and cerebrospinal fluid. The endorphins produce system-wide pain relief, remote from the area where the acupuncture needle was inserted. ACTH, in turn, activates the adrenal gland to release cortisol into the bloodstream. Cortisol is a naturally occurring steroid substance that has anti-inflammatory properties.
The net result of these three areas being stimulated is an inhibition of the incoming pain sensation locally, a general, morphine like, pain-relieving effect throughout the body, an anti-inflammatory effect, and a general sense of improved well-being
The precise choice of acupuncture points, regarding whether they are near the painful site or farther away, determines which of the three pathways mentioned are primarily activated.
Placing needles near the painful site brings about a more intense pain relief, because it activates all three centers (spinal cord, midbrain, and pituitary gland). Local needling also maximizes inhibition of the incoming pain signal at the segmental region of the spinal cord. Needling acupuncture points distant to the painful area predominantly affects the mid-brain and pituitary gland. In general, a combination of local and distant acupuncture points are used together during a treatment, in order to maximize the effects at all three centers.