The power of the Needle
The practice of acupuncture dates back nearly 5000 years, where it began in China.
Over the course of its development, ancient practitioners developed concepts and systems reflecting the religious, medical and cultural beliefs of their time.
Archaeological relics and manuscripts give us a clue to understanding the history and development of acupuncture.
Ancient practitioners examined their patients by feeling pulsations at various points. They believed that the pulse was an indication of a vital force, which they called Qi (pronounced “chee”).
Channels were connected between various acupoints, forming a network of meridians.
The theory of meridians became one of the cornerstones of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
The most valuable discovery in acupuncture theory was the interrelation between parts of the body surface and the internal organs.
Current technology has enabled a bio-medicalization of acupuncture.
Laboratory data, functional imaging of the brain, and clinical evidence have enabled us to understand acupuncture from a Western perspective, allowing us to demystify ancient theories and replace them with mechanisms based upon anatomy, physiology and biochemistry.
Clinical evidence shows that acupuncture has unique merits, differing from conventional medicine.
It is effective for a variety of health problems, especially pain, and has a lot to offer, especially in some cases where Western medicine fails.
Biomedical acupuncture is known as Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS), Trigger Point Dry Needling (TPDN) and Intramuscular Manual Therapy (IMT).
It is typically performed based on an examination that includes:
1. A movement screen
2. Range of motion testing
3. Strength testing
One of the main goals of treatment is to relax tight muscles on one side of a joint and stimulate weak muscles on the opposite side of the joint.
The end result is optimum length-tension in the muscles, optimum joint function and optimum nerve function to coordinate movements.
When the above occurs, the Kinetic Chain will have optimum neuromuscular efficiency (i.e. the ability of muscles to produce force, reduce force and stabilize during functional movements).
If you are in pain, this can help resolve the dysfunction.
If you are an athlete, this equates to performance enhancement.
In addition to normalizing muscle tone and optimizing muscle strength, the needle produces a minute injury, which in turn increases the production of platelets and growth factors.
In the case of tendonitis, muscle strains, ligament sprains or arthritis, this leads to the replacement of damaged tissue with healthier, more durable connective tissue.
You may have heard of PRP therapy (platelet-rich-plasma-therapy) or Prolotherapy.
Both of these therapies work by injecting substances into an injured area in order to stimulate an inflammatory reaction that leads to healthy collagen production.
Dry needling can accomplish the same thing, but without the risks and expense of the aforementioned therapies.
The NIH (National Institutes for Health) funds clinical trials to evaluate acupuncture’s efficacy in alleviating various kinds of pain, as well as research aimed at understanding the body’s response to acupuncture and how acupuncture might work. The following are examples of recent projects:
- Several studies of acupuncture for low-back pain (including integration with conventional medical care) and osteoarthritis of the knee (including cost-effectiveness and long-term results).
- Studies of acupuncture for pain after oral surgery, and for pain associated with chronic headaches, fibromyalgia, repetitive strain injury/carpal tunnel syndrome, and temporomandibular joint disorder.
- Women’s health studies, including acupuncture for pelvic pain, menstrual pain and pain associated with advanced ovarian cancer.
- Several studies using fMRI technology to study brain activity during acupuncture, including in people with pain conditions such as fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis.
Northwest Integrative Medicine News
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