The ancient art of acupuncture has been used in Asia for centuries to treat many conditions and relieve pain. It's now being used in the United States and other Western countries to ease everything from low back pain to nerve pain (such as painful shingles rashes), to headaches, fibromyalgia, and menstrual cramps — and more.
Traditional Chinese acupuncture involves the insertion of extremely fine needles into the skin at specific "acupoints." This may relieve pain by releasing endorphins, the body's natural pain-killing chemicals, and by affecting the part of the brain that governs serotonin, a brain chemical involved with mood.
In Chinese acupuncture, the acupuncturist may turn or twirl the needles slightly or apply heat or electrical stimulation to enhance the effects. He or she may also burn a therapeutic herb near the skin; this is called moxibustion.
A Japanese form of acupuncture involves more shallow needle insertion than in Chinese acupuncture, and the needles aren't usually manipulated. Korean acupuncture focuses on applying needles to points in just the hands and feet.
The acupuncturist typically inserts four to 10 needles and leaves them in place for 10 to 30 minutes while you rest. A usual course of treatment includes six to 12 sessions over a three-month period.
(Acupressure, a similar technique to acupuncture, does not use needles. Instead, the practitioner uses his or her hands to apply deep pressure at acupressure points.)
Acupuncture is generally quite safe, and the complication rate appears to be quite low. A review of acupuncture-related complications reported in medical journals found that the most serious problem was the accidental insertion of a needle into the pleural space between the lungs and the chest wall (but this is rare). The advent of single-use, sealed needle packages has all but eliminated the risks of blood-borne infections such as hepatitis B or HIV.
Precision Pain Care and Rehabilitation has two convenient locations in the Richmond Hill – Queens and New Hyde Park – Long Island. Call the Richmond Hill office at (718) 215-1888, or (516) 419-4480 for Long Island office, to arrange an appointment with our Interventional Pain Management Specialist, Dr. Jeffrey Chacko.