Acupuncture originates from two Latin words “acū” which means ‘needle’ and “pūnctūra” which means to pierce or penetrate. Therefore “acupuncture” means “to pierce with a needle”.
In acupuncture very thin needles, slightly thicker than a human hair, are inserted into acupuncture points. The purpose of acupuncture is to regulate and normalize the flow of the Qi (Chi-energy), so that the Yin and the Yang return to a state of dynamic equilibrium. Acupuncture is designed to relieve symptoms by curing the disease.
An acupuncturist would treat the fundamental cause of the illness and as the cure progresses the symptoms disappear on their own. Treatment duration greatly depends on patients’ conditions. Of course, it often takes a great deal of skill to find the true cause of some illnesses! It is possible for an acupuncturist to treat the symptoms of various diseases very effectively and quickly; for example a mere symptomatic treatment such as the pain in the back results from sports injury can be relieved in minutes.
It’s crucial to determine which acupuncture points to be used in a course of treatment. The acupuncturist must know the function and interaction of each acupuncture point and to each other before planning treatment to eliminate obstructions in the flow of Qi and to balance the Yin and Yang. After concluded a diagnosis, treatment began.
An experienced acupuncturist uses as few needles as possible to balance the energy flows. In contrast, a novice may use many needles and still be unable to balance the energy flows. Most patients need ten to fifteen acupuncture needles for each treatment, but sometimes only a single needle may be enough. While treating a frozen shoulder, a single needle is inserted into the leg and then twirled. In a few minutes, a shoulder that has been immobile for up to three months moves freely and without pain. Though cartoonists are fond of drawing patients with needles stuck all over them, actually only a few needles are used for each patient.
Needles... Here we go again..
An average acupuncture needle is slightly thicker than a human hair and its insertion is virtually painless. Many potential patients are dissuaded from trying acupuncture by the pictures they see of acupuncture where long, thick needles are inserted into the patient. This has given rise to the misconception that acupuncture is painful. This misconception also arises from the belief that acupuncture needles are similar to injection needles. There are several fundamental differences between acupuncture needles and hypodermic needles used for giving an injection.
Normal acupuncture needles are so thin that they cannot be seen in a picture or on television. The needles used for demonstration are far thicker than those used for acupuncture. As you would appreciate, a silver needle slightly thicker than a human hair is hard to see.
An acupuncture needle is very thin, ranging from 0.16 mm to 0.38 mm in thickness, while injection needles range from 0.6 mm to 2 mm (in blood transfusion needles). The tip of an acupuncture needle is conical in shape, which allows it to penetrate the tissues separating the fibres of the muscle as it enters, without causing damage. Similarly on removing the needle the separated fibres close smoothly around the needle, preventing bleeding.
A hypodermic needle in contrast, has a sharp edge and its insertion cuts out a small cylinder of flesh as it enters. This fact is used for carrying out a needle biopsy to diagnose cancer. A hypodermic needle also has a hole through which a liquid is forced while giving the injection. Once the medicine is injected it forces the cylinder of flesh, into the place where the injection is given releasing painful substances called prostaglandins. The forcing of the medicine into a closed space also causes pain.
In acupuncture, no fluid is injected into the body and as the needle does not have a cavity in the middle, it is much thinner than a hypodermic needle. The sensation felt when an acupuncture needle is inserted is very different from the sensation felt when a hypodermic needle is used. In contrast to an injection, an acupuncture needle produces its effect by altering the energy flow inside the human body.
Acupuncture needles come in various sizes and thicknesses ranging from two millimeters to ten centimeters in length. The handles are one to three centimeters long. The longest needles are used on fat people in areas where there is thick muscle and a lot of fat, like the buttocks and hips. On the forehead hands and face, only the tip of the needle is inserted. The depth of insertion of the needle varies from one millimeter to about ten centimeters depending on the depth of the acupuncture point to be treated.
When animals gets acupuncture treatments, there aren't any psychological placebo effect. Their treatment results directly validated the effectiveness of acupuncture.
Something to think about eh?