What is Acupuncture?
Having evolved over thousands of years, acupuncture is one of the oldest continually practiced medical modalities in the world. It involves the use of fine needles at specific points on the skin's surface which have the ability to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions via the nervous system. Here at Tranquil Body in Charleston, SC, acupuncture is used to release stagnation and restore balance by provoking movement of blood and energy within the body. The goal is to stimulate the body's innate ability to heal itself. Needles are gently used to activate sensory receptors and nerve fibers which transmit impulses to the brain.
Acupuncture is also known to increase circulation and blood oxygen levels, decrease blood pressure, elevate and balance immune function, and decrease inflammation. There are no limits to what conditions acupuncture can work with, however, it is important for the patient to be willing to recognize and shift particular lifestyle habits that have attributed to their present condition.
Every treatment is customized according to your present condition and will likely change with each visit. Other modalities may be applied during your acupuncture treatment, depending on your needs. Massage techniques may be used to release muscular stagnation and to relax the body. Heat therapy is applied through the use of warm towels and an infrared heat lamp is to encourage movement of blood and energy and to dispel spasm and tension. Cupping therapy uses a form of suction to pull stagnation and toxic build up to the skin’s surface where it may be carried off by the capillaries to be excreted. By doing so, blood may move freely throughout the area to properly oxygenate and heal the tissue. Herbal, dietary, and lifestyle recommendations will also be offered throughout the treatment process. Chinese herbs are used in the form of tea, pills, and topical tinctures and rubs. They may be suggested to balance the body and assist with healing a variety of illnesses. Herbs are considered to be more gentile on the body, producing far less side effects than medications, and much less invasive than surgery.
What Does Acupuncture Feel Like?
Many first-time patients are concerned that acupuncture needles will feel like hypodermic injections at the doctor’s office. They won't.Acupuncture uses hair-thin, flexible needles that you will hardly feel when I insert them. When I gently stimulate the needles they may produce a unique sensation. Patients often describe this as a heavy, achy pressure, or spreading, traveling feeling. You may also feel an "electrical" sensation moving down the meridian pathways, though this is less common. Any sensations of discomfort will be minimal and will immediately dissipate. Most patients find acupuncture treatments deeply satisfying and leave feeling very relaxed, both physically and mentally.
How Many Treatments Will I Need?
The benefits of acupuncture are cumulative, so more then one treatment is often necessary. For acute conditions you can expect to have 2 to 6 treatments, but you should begin to feel some relief after the first treatment. Chronic conditions may take longer to respond, depending on the severity and duration of the condition. Results are often accelerated by making appropriate lifestyle changes. Preventative treatments for general well-being may also be scheduled on an as-needed or seasonal basis.
Is Acupuncture Safe?
Yes. Acupuncture is used by millions of Americans every year. Acupuncturists are required to undergo extensive education, including detailed study of human anatomy and training in Clean Needle Technique. I have passed comprehensive national board examinations administered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) and am licensed by the state of South Carolina. As required by law, I use pre-sterilized, disposable, single-use needles to ensure your complete safety.
Your First Visit
When you arrive for your first acupuncture appointment I will ask you to complete a comprehensive intake form which asks questions about your current state of health, past illnesses, and family history. These questions are important because the holistic approach of Oriental medicine takes your whole health history into account. Your current symptoms may not seem related to past health issues, but our bodies are complex landscapes and everything that happens to them leaves its mark.
After reviewing your intake form, we will discuss your condition, and I will examine your pulse and tongue. The acupuncture points I choose will depend on your condition, but you can expect approximately 10-20 needles. Once the needles are inserted, I will leave you to lie comfortably for 15-20 minutes with the needles in place. Many people find acupuncture treatments deeply relaxing, and it is not uncommon for patients to fall asleep during this time.
How does acupuncture relieve pain?
In a Western Medical perspective, acupuncture treatments have shown clinically to trigger the central nervous system to release endorphins (pain-relieving chemicals) that are 50 to 100 times stronger than many pain-relieving medications, which can help reduce stress and eliminate the recurring pain cycle as well. According to the World Health Organization, acupuncture is as effective as morphine in treating chronic pain. Next, Acupuncture helps increase the flow of blood to the muscles and breaks the cycle of muscle spasms. Finally, acupuncture helps the process of healing as it stimulates the flow of blood to the site of injury and decreases the buildup of scar tissue, while healing the injured area.
The result of acupuncture treatment is an easing of myofascial restriction, therefore improving circulation, lymphatic drainage and nerve conduction. Muscles relax, connective tissue strengthens and pain is relieved. As the viscous cycle of myofascial pain subsides, the nervous system calms. Sleep and concentration immediately improves. It is important to understand that the pain relief from acupuncture is not predominantly from an analgesic effect but rather from increased blood flow, oxygen and nutrients to the injured area. Relief is felt as the healing process begins.
In Eastern perspective, acupuncture improves circulation and removes blockage. Pain is the blockage of qi (or chi) -- vital energy, and blood in the energy channels called meridians. These channels carry rivers of energy that traverse the body, bringing nourishment to the muscles, tissues and organs. An obstruction to the movement of vital energy in one part of the body is like a dam backing up a river, restricting flow to other areas. Acupuncture unblocks the obstructions and increases the normal flow of energy through the channels relieving pain and restoring balance.
Acupuncture is especially beneficial to pain when combined with massage therapy, cupping and heat therapy.