Acupuncture has its roots in the ancient Far East, and has been modified by various cultures of the Orient. Recent study of acupuncture from an anatomical basis has revealed many of the mechanisms by which it works.
This study has allowed western practitioners to identify those conditions that acupuncture will be most effective in treating, and those points of greatest value. This Western medical basis of acupuncture is generally termed anatomical, or neuro-anatomical acupuncture.
Neuro-anatomical acupuncture is a therapy based on the anatomy and physiology of the human body – virtually all acupuncture points correspond to known neural structures. These nerve-related structures may be at the site of pain, a muscle belly, a trigger point or directly on a nerve. Nerve points are typically found at a spinal nerve, a cranial nerve, or a peripheral nerve, like the sciatic nerve.
Neuro-acupuncture treatment is based on a conventional western diagnosis, utilizing a scientific understanding of the human body. In contrast, traditional acupuncturist basis their diagnosis on a complex system based on Eastern philosophy and folklore as to how the body works.
Acupuncture needles are metallic, solid and hair-thin. People experience acupuncture differently, but most feel no or minimal pains as the needles are inserted. Some people are energized by treatment, while others feel relaxed.
In general, acupuncture points are believed to stimulate the central nervous system and the autonomic nervous system. These two systems in turn, release chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. The chemicals either alter the experience of pain or release other chemicals that influence the body’s self-regulating systems. These biochemical changes may stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being.
Acupuncture releases opiods, which are naturally-occurring chemicals in the brain that reduce pain and modify homeostasis in the body. These chemicals may explain acupuncture’s pain-relieving effects.
Acupuncture can alter brain chemistry in a positive way. This is accomplished by changing the release of neurotransmitters (biochemical substances that stimulate or inhibit nerve impulses) and neurohormones (naturally-occurring chemical substances that can change the activity of a body organ). As a result acupuncture normalizes autonomic nervous dysfunctions, relieves pain, and creates a feeling of relaxation.
Acupuncture causes an immunological response, studies have conformed an increased level of white blood cells in the human blood after acupuncture treatments. It is theorized that this is how acupuncture modifies inflammation.
Since the acupuncture needle creates a micro-injury, there may also be a regenerative response as tissue is regenerated and heals. This effect is most noticeable with peripheral nerves (like the sciatic nerve) and damaged tissues such as tendons and muscles.
Acupuncture can be a very favourable adjunct to your chiropractic treatment. Both treatments aid the body in healing, virtually risk free, and are particularly effective for disorders affecting the nerves, muscles and skeletal system.