Acupuncture is a component of East Asian medicine that uses fine needle insertion to trigger the body’s self-healing processes. There are over 2000 acupucture points on the body that correspond to specific symptoms andd systemic function. Based on the patients symptoms, the acupuncturist needles a series of points designed to treat the outward symptom as well as the underlying cause.
Asian medicine recognizes discrete pathways, often referred to as meridians or channels, that travel along the fascial planes of connective tissue. Each pathway is associated with specific organs and their respective systemic function. Parts of each channel are close to the surface in the fascia under the skin, while other sections are deep in the interior of the body in the connective tissue that surrounds organs. Acupuncture points are the areas on the body where the meridians can be influenced by needle insertion to trigger the desired change along the channel.
Unlike Western/Conventional medicine, Asian medicine treats the patient’s body, mind, and spirit as an integrated whole. In this way, we can treat the patient’s chief symptoms as well as underlying conditions. For example, a patient who comes in for tension headaches may also be dealing with indigestion and jaw pain. In conventional medicine, this may require visiting three different specialists. In Asian medicine, we understand that these symptoms are all part of specific pattern of disease and can treat the issues concurrently.
No, acupuncture might reduce reliance on pain medications and reduce overall symptoms but it should not completely replace your conventional medical care by your MD. Acupuncture and conventional medicine are best done in conjunction with each other. I regulary refer patients back to their primary care practitioner or specialist and medical doctors refer their patients to acupuncture treatments for pain and symptoms management.
Many patients seek acupuncture when they’ve been unable to achieve satisfactory relief from conventional medicine, can’t tolerate the side effects of pharmaceuticals, or want an alternative to invasive surgeries.
In order to be licensed in the state of Maryland, acupuncturists must complete a minimum of 2,385 academic instructional hours and participate in more than 300 patient clinical treatments in a three-year period as part of an accredited Master of Acupuncture graduate program. The Doctorate of Acupuncture degree further develops clinical competency and prepares the practitioner to work in integrative clinical settings alongside conventional medical practitioners. Most states require successful completion of the national Acupuncture Board Exams administered by the National Certification Commission For Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). In addition, licensed acupuncturists are required to complete annual continuing education courses.