Acupuncture represents a stimulation of specific, acupuncture points present along the skin of the body, with the use of specific needles. It has derived its name from Latin language, from words “acus” (needle) and “punctura” (to puncture). Also, the practice could be associated with the application of pressure, heat or even laser light to the same acupuncture points. Such practice can vary from country to country.
The traditional practice of acupuncture involves moxibustion, cupping therapy and needle insertion. It is not considered as the official, contemporary medicine, but is rather an alternative therapy, and also a key component of traditional Chinese medicine. According to the traditional Chinese medicine, the stimulation of specific acupuncture points can correct the imbalances in the qi flow, through certain channels knowns as the meridians. The scientific knowledge doesn’t support the theory of traditional Chinese medicine, so therefore it is described as the pseudoscience.
It may last for 60 minutes, unlike subsequent visits which typically last for half an hour. Frequency and number of the acupuncture sessions may vary, but most of them believe that a single session is insufficient.
Treatment plan usually consists of six to twelve treatments and is carried out over a period of few months. Typical session seeks lying position from the patient and five to twenty needles are inserted. Total time for needles to stay left in the place is for ten up to twenty minutes.
The clinical practice differs from each country. For example, a comparison of the average number of the treated patients per one hour is 10 in China and 1.2 in the United States. The traditional practice of acupuncture includes needle insertion, cupping therapy and moxibustion. Various ancillary procedures may acompany the traditional acupuncture, such as the palpation of radial artery, other parts of the body and tongue examination.
The acupuncturists treat acupuncture as the overall care system and it includes acupuncture needling, traditional diagnostic techniques and other treatments. Being the part of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture also includes the use of chinese herbs. The most adopted type of acupuncture is the one supported by the traditional Chinese medicine, while Western medical acupuncture is widely practiced in Europe, especially UK.
The needles for acupuncture are usuallz made of the stainless steel, which makes them flexible and prevents them from breaking or rusting. In order to prevent the contamination, the needles are disposed afterwards. If reused, the needles should be sterilized between the applications and treatments. The needles could vary anywhere from 13 to 130 millimetres, with the shorter ones used in the area nead the eyes and face, and longer needles in fleshy, thicker areas. The tip of the used needle mustn’t be too sharp because it may break, although the blunt ones can cause more pain.
The sterilization of the skin is required before the insertion. The needles are usually inserted with the help of a plastic guide tube and could be manipulated in different ways, ncluding flicking, spinning or moving up and down, depending on the skin. Usually, the pain is felt in the superficial skin layers, so quick insertion of a needle is recommended. The needles usually need to be stimulated by the hand, in order to cause a localized, dull and aching sensation which is called de qi, also known as the „needle grasp“. This tugging feeling is performed by the mechanical interaction between skin and the needle. Unfortunatelly, acupuncture can be painful and it mostly depends on the acupuncturists’ expertise. A good acupuncturist may be quite able to insert the needles and avoid causing the pain. So, it is always better to look help form the skillful acupuncture practitioner.
If you would use the principles present in the evidence-based medicine, in order to research the controverse of acupuncture, then you would end up with different results in the growing evidence base. Some research suggests that acupuncture can actually alleviate pain, but yet other suggest that these effects are mainly placebic. In order to have the rigorous and definite results for this practice, it’s important to design a research trial for acupuncture that would be precise and long-standing. This is difficult, but not an impossible task.
The invasive nautre of acupuncture represents one of the major challenges in the research of efficacy, especially when you need to form placebo control group. If it proves that acupuncture shows the under-performance, it may indicate that these effecta are entirely non-specific and that the protocol lack of optimal treatment. A certain review in 2012 suggested that common control procedure used for the acupuncture involved the use of needles inserted on either meridians, but it wasn’t specific for the study condition. This study seems to suggest that the used needles do not actually have to stimulite the acupuncture points specified by tradition, or to even penetrate the skin in order to produce the anticipated effect. The study results also suggest that the the benefits of acupuncture are short-lasting and cannot be used for the treatment of chronic condition.
Any present evidence on the effectivenes of acupuncture is inconsistent and variable, even when the single conditions are included. On the other hand, the studies which were held in Japan, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong were favourable to the practice of acupuncture, as well as the 10 out of 11 studies performed in Russia. Yet, the quality of such studies was quite poor, including experimental control, blinding and randomization, especially for the Chinese journals. The study also showed that the trials which were presented in non-Chinese journals were of higher quality.