What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a part of Traditional Chinese
medicine dating back 5000 – 7000 years and
is based on these ideas.
Our bodies have fourteen major
energy channels called meridians
that flow through our head, arms,
hands, legs, feet, trunk, and organs.
Qi (you say “chee”) is a vital life
force that flows through the channels
to all the cells in our bodies.
If Qi is not able to flow because the
body is out of balance or there is a
blockage it may result in pain and
other symptoms of illness.
Acupuncture is done with needles or
by applying pressure to certain
points which are along the meridians.
This causes a greater flow of Qi to
help release blockages and restore
balance in the body. This supports
the body’s own instinct to heal itself
and maintain health.
How does it all work?
The meridians are channels the Qi flows
through to every part of your body. Many
thousands of years ago Chinese doctors
found that Qi flows along fourteen major
channels. One of the channels is in the
center of the front of your body, and one is
on the center of the back of your body. The
other twelve are on the right and left sides of
your body. There are also extra channels
throughout your body. The Chinese have
made maps showing where the channels are.
They have found hundreds of points in these
channels where Qi can be accessed and
produce a greater flow. These points are
What happens when the flow of Qi is
Weakened immune system
Absence of health
A blockage can cause less Qi in one organ
or part of an organ and it may also cause
more Qi to build up in another part. At the
first visit an acupuncturist will diagnose and
choose a treatment plan for 1 - 12 or more
points to balance the flow of the Qi.
How does the flow of Qi become blocked?
Dirty air or water
Disease in an organ like the liver
Pain in muscle, bone, joint, or tendon
What is a treatment like and how long
does it last?
A treatment includes
Physical exam – which includes
checking pulse, looking at the
tongue, skin and hair.
Checking the voice
Feeling for tender acupoints
The acupuncturist decides which points to
treat by past experience, and by reading and
checking books and charts that list ancient
formulas for a diagnosis. These charts and
books are based on billions of cases of
people over time.
Once the needles are placed you remain
lying down to rest in the treatment room. A
normal treatment is about 30 minutes.
How many treatments will I need?
It depends on the person.
Treatments for acute symptoms tend to take
less time to resolve than those for chronic
symptoms. If you are in the hospital, 1 – 2
treatments may decrease pain and nausea
and help you to relax and rest. If you are
receiving treatments in a clinic, some
acupuncturists suggest 2 – 4 treatments a
week for 8 – 16 treatments. Some people
respond after 1 – 2 treatments. Some may
not notice a change until the 8th or 9th
Will there be needles? Will they hurt?
Are they safe?
The needles are fine, about the size of a
human hair or a piece of thread. Some
people notice a slight tingling feeling when
the needle makes contact with Qi. At your
first visit you may feel surprised at how
relaxed and at ease you feel during the
treatment. The needles come in presterilized
packages. The US government insists
acupuncturists follow very strict sterilization
How does it help?
Decreases or relieves pain.
Strengthens the immune system.
Brings the body into balance.
What are some of the common reasons
people use acupuncture?
Research studies suggest that acupuncture
may be helpful treating the following:
Nausea and vomiting after surgery or
Low back pain
Osteoarthritis of the knee
High blood pressure
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this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©8/2016. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
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