It's a form of traditional Chinese medicine. It aims to correct imbalances of energy, or “chi,” in the body. To do that, practitioners use very fine stainless-steel needles to stimulate the body's 14 major energy-carrying channels, or “meridians.”
Acupuncture may curb pain by boosting the amount of natural pain killers your body makes, called endorphins.
An FDA advisory committee recently recommended that the FDA set certain limits on acetaminophen, a drug that is used in many prescription and nonprescription medicines to relieve pain and reduce fever.
Those limits could include taking off the market some prescription drugs, such as the painkillers Percocet and Vicodin, which combine acetaminophen with other active ingredients.
The reason for the proposed limits is the risk of liver damage from taking too much acetaminophen.
You shouldn’t rely on acupuncture to treat a chronic or serious illness unless you see a doctor first. Acupuncture may not be the best way to improve your condition. Or it could OK for you, but it doesn’t replace other medical care, such as physical therapy or medication. For certain conditions, such as cancer, you should get acupuncture only in combination with other treatments.
What Happens During a Session
The person who treats you is called an acupuncturist. He’ll swab each area with alcohol before tapping a very thin needle into the site. The number of needles you’ll get, where they’re placed, and how deeply they’re inserted depends upon your particular case.
The needles will stay in place for several minutes to an hour. The acupuncturist may adjust, warm, or electrically energize them to intensify the effect. You may feel some tingling if electricity is used. It should be mild, and you can ask your acupuncturist to dial it down at any time.
You may need to get more than one session.
Does Acupuncture Hurt?
No. You may feel a slight prick when the needle is inserted, but it is much less than the prick you feel during a shot, since the needles are much thinner. You may feel a heaviness, numbness, tingling, or mild soreness after the needles have been put in.