Acupuncture is part of an ancient system of medicine that has been gaining popularity in the United States since its introduction in the 1970’s. It uses small, thin needles that are inserted into the skin at specific points. When stimulated, these points activate the body’s healing energy, called “qi” or “chi” in Chinese. Needle insertions may have a mild sensation or none at all, but the qi that is produced can be quite strong.
It is important for the patients to give their acupuncturists feedback on the sensations that are felt, because the acupuncture treatment should never be painful. While many people are nervous about needles, acupuncture needles are extremely small, thin and fine when compared to the needles used to draw blood or give injections. The acupuncture needles used in the United States are sterile and almost always disposable to further ensure the safety of the patient.
Four to 20 needles can be used in an acupuncture treatment, depending on the condition and state of the patient. The treatment lasts from 20 to 30 minutes. Many people feel very relaxed during the treatment, and may even fall asleep. Some people feel more energized after a treatment. When the acupuncture points are stimulated they have both an energetic and physiologic effect on the body by creating chemicals such as neurotransmitters that may reduce pain and change moods.
Acupuncture points are located on specific channels on the skin called meridians. There are twelve major meridians that are named after the organ systems. Although these meridians are identified by the names of organs they do not correspond directly to the same western anatomical organ. For example, an acupuncturist may find on examination that a person has “deficient” kidney qi. This is strictly meaningful in Chinese medicine and does not mean that the patient has kidney disease from a western medical perspective.
Acupuncture is only one aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine, an ancient system of Chinese healing. Traditional Chinese Medicine also includes exercise, dietary therapy, mental exercise, such as Tai Chi or Qi Gong, and the use of herbal medicine. One of the most important methods of assessing a patient in Traditional Chinese Medicine is pulse diagnosis. This is a very subtle technical that requires considerable training. There are six pulses found in each wrist - twelve all total. One pulse corresponds to each meridian. A well-trained acupuncturist will also diagnosis the patient by examining the tongue, face, and colorization of the skin, as well as uses other Traditional Chinese Medicine techniques. Electronic machines and devices are not part of a traditional Chinese medical assessment.
Acupuncture has been recognized by the World Health Organization to treat many disorders, and is one of the most scientifically studied forms of healing in the world. Dr. Sorensen has over 17 years practicing acupuncture, and has found it provides excellent results for many chronic conditions, especially gynecological conditions, gastrointestinal complaints, musculoskeletal pain, and helping support the emotions in times of stress.
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