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How Does Acupuncture Work?
Have you ever wondered how acupuncture works? We get patients asking us this question all the time. The answer will often change depending on who you ask. This is because there are two main theories on how it works, the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory and the biomedical theory. We will discuss these two theories and our approach here at Sound Chiropractic & Wellness Clinic.
Acupuncture is one of the oldest medical procedures in the world, with its origins dating back to China more than 2000 years ago. TCM is based on the belief that an essential energy called “qi” flow through the body along channels called Meridians and nourishes the tissues. Any interruption, depletion or stagnation in these energies will lead to disease. The goal of TCM, is to correct any imbalances in Qi along the meridians. This restores health through stimulation of specific acupuncture points.
The more modern and scientific explanation of acupuncture is through the biomedical theory. This theory explains that needling acupuncture points stimulates the release of chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord and brain. The release of these chemical lead to reduced pain, inflammation and stimulate the body’s own regulating system to promote healing.
Does needle placement differ between theories?
The needle placement for both theories are very similar. The acupuncture points do not change locations between theories, but the purpose for using the points may differ. Generally, TCM uses more distal points to treat the area of complaint, while biomedical approach uses more local points. For example, a patient suffering from headaches/migraines may receive needles around the head and neck in the biomedical approach, however, TCM would most likely incorporate a few or no needles around the head and neck but would place needles along both arms and hands such as acupuncture point Li4, which is located between your thumb and index finger.
Which acupuncture model do we use?
At Sound Chiropractic & Wellness Clinic, we tend to use both theories in clinical practice. Often, we will use local points to encourage healing and decrease inflammation locally and place a few needles at more distal points to encourage more a systemic effect (widespread) on the body. Research has shown that both approaches to acupuncture are beneficial and have little to no difference on healing times.