Traditional Chinese acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine that originated in China. It involves the insertion of fine needles into specific points on the body to restore balance and promote healing. The practice is based on the belief that the body has a natural energy flow, or qi, that can become disrupted, leading to pain and illness. By stimulating certain points with needles, acupuncture is believed to help restore the proper flow of energy and promote overall health and well-being.
When the needle punctures the skin, there may be a slight stinging sensation. Experienced Traditional Chinese acupuncturists, however, will typically feel very little pain when inserting the needle. Once the needle is in place, there should be no stinging sensation. Rather, the patient may feel a sensation known as Deqi, which can manifest as local heaviness, soreness, numbness, or radiating along a line.
Depending on the condition being treated, the acupuncturist may intentionally create different sensations for the patient. For example, if the disease is a new one, the acupuncturist may create a stronger needle sensation to address the issue. If the patient is weak, a lighter acupuncture sensation plus heat therapy may be used to replenish energy.
Overall, the sensation of Deqi is not unpleasant and many people even find it enjoyable after trying it once. In fact, the effectiveness of the treatment is sometimes measured by the patient’s experience of the needle sensation. On the contrary, if there is no needle sensation at all during treatment, it may be an indication that something is not working as intended.
Traditional Chinese medicine includes a type of massage called Tui Na. According to TCM, the human body has many layers, and the meridians are located in the spaces between muscles, bones, and tendons. These meridians are like pipelines that transport energy from the body’s deep layers to the surface. The energy can only be reached at specific points, known as acupuncture points. Massaging the muscles alone is insufficient in accessing the body’s deep layers. Acupuncture needles, as good conductors, can be used at specific points to improve the balance of the body’s internal organs. Therefore, Traditional Chinese acupuncture can be an effective treatment method for many severe diseases.
For children under the age of 5, their meridians are closer to the surface of the body, and therefore they do not need acupuncture. They can be treated with pediatric tuina massage, which is a simple touch of the finger. In China, pediatric tuina massage is popular for treating children’s colds, fevers, diarrhea, and coughs. However, after the age of 5, the energy of the human body becomes increasingly restrained, and the effect of pediatric massage is reduced. By the age of 12, pediatric massage is almost entirely ineffective.
Each treatment method has its own range of applications. For instance, if a person’s muscles are very tight, the effect of acupuncture will be influenced. In such cases, cupping is typically used to loosen the muscles BEFORE the acupuncture.
Moreover, according to TCM theory, different organs are responsible for different tissues on the surface of the body and for different emotions. The lung governs the skin, and is responsible for sadness. Therefore, for depression, we commonly use Tui Na, which is often very effective.
Lastly, in the case of simple muscle pain, acupuncture alone may not suffice for skeletal deformities, and muscle relaxation therapy(massage) may also be needed.
Acupuncture is generally appropriate for most individuals. It can be used as a treatment or healthcare option for those in good health, with minor health issues, or in a diseased state. However, there are certain conditions for which acupuncture is not recommended. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. Patients with leukemia are not recommended to receive acupuncture.
2. Patients who are excessively tired, hungry should not receive immediate needling and should be treated after they have recovered.
3. Patients with a spontaneous bleeding tendency or those who continue to bleed after injury are not suitable for acupuncture. Vascular needling should be avoided to prevent bleeding.
4. Patients with skin infections, ulcers, or scars should be assessed on a case-by-case basis because acupuncture has shown good anti-inflammatory effects in clinical practice.
5. Patients who feel electric shock, obvious pain, or have hard tissue at the needle tip should withdraw the needle when such symptoms are found during treatment and should not continue needling.
6. For patients with an unclosed anterior fontanelle, the head and neck acupoints should not be needled. In addition, because children cannot cooperate, rapid needle insertion should be used during acupuncture treatment and the needle should not be left in place.
7. Patients with coagulation disorders, such as hemophilia and thrombocytopenic purpura, are not suitable for acupuncture because their coagulation time is longer or they are difficult to coagulate, resulting in easy bleeding at the needle site.
8. Pregnant women and those who have had habitual miscarriages within the last 6 months should not be needled in the lower abdomen and lumbosacral region. After 6 months, the upper abdomen and some acupoints with strong needle sensation (such as Hegu, Sanyinjiao, etc.) should also be avoided. Those with a history of habitual miscarriage should use acupuncture with caution.
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