acupuncture needles


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Acupressure and acupuncture are both classified as types of Asian body work and both possess the ancient healing powers of Chinese medicine. However, it can be tough to differentiate what benefits each method can help you achieve.  I hope to show you just how unique acupuncture and acupressure truly are.

Acupuncture and acupressure do have many similarities. Both methods are described as holistic medicine since they both work with our body’s meridians that carry energy throughout our body and focus on overall balance. These traditional Chinese practices help alleviate ailments that cause blockage along our 14 meridians, therefore, you can depend on acupuncture and acupressure to encourage a free flow of energy within our channels.

A Chinese practitioner would have to examine the patient according to their tradition. A thorough diagnosis of the patient’s condition would need to be derived so that they can better choose which type of healing your body needs. Acupuncture must be performed by an expert in the field of traditional Chinese medicine. It is more precise than acupressure because it deals with specific pressure points related to nerves in the body. Acupuncture has been known to treat diseases that have been known to resist most other treatments.  Acupressure is an ancient Chinese massage known as Shiatsu and can be learned from a handbook rather than someone that has studied Chinese medicine. There are no needles involved with acupressure and it is simply the art of the human healing touch.

Both acupuncture and acupressure are forms of alternative medicine that do not involve surgeries, medication or extensive doctor visits. Acupuncture and acupressure both have their roots in Chinese medicine.  Principles of Chinese medicine center around the idea that the body is a small part of the universe. Disease is viewed as an imbalance and Chinese practitioners throughout history have developed an intricate system of how organs relate to the physical and mental systems of the human condition. Acupuncture and acupressure are both very different. Acupressure is the art of using needles to pinpoint pressure points and acupressure is healing through finger pressure massage techniques.

Since both acupuncture and acupressure work with chi, they are used to treat issues such as allergies, nausea, migraines and headaches, depression, arthritis, and anxiety.

Acupuncture is very interesting compared to Western practices. Acupuncture uses thin needles that go into the skin to treat health problems. Acupressure, on the other hand, does not break the skin. Although tiny needles are being inserted into your body along the energy channels, acupuncture needles do not hurt—these needles are extremely thin and flexible, which allows the acupuncturist to insert them painlessly into tissue and muscle near pressure points.

In summary, acupuncture and acupressure are both healing techniques. Acupuncture requires much accurate, however, great relief comes quickly with the application of the thin needles. Since acupressure uses wider tools like elbows and fingers, the results might take longer to experience.

If you are deciding between both of these special treatments, acupressure is the safest choice. It may be harder to achieve the most accurate results but acupressure is more difficult to do wrong, which could further worsen your current aches and pains.

Whether you choose acupuncture or acupressure, you will definitely feel the healing effects of Chinese medicine on the body and its energy channels.

The primary difference between acupressure and acupuncture is that the latter uses thin needles in addressing health concerns, while the former doesn’t break your skin. However, the two methods of holistic medicine have much in common, since they are both based on touching meridians that carry energy, or chi, throughout the body. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, TCM, ailments are caused by blockages of chi somewhere along fourteen meridians, so both acupressure and acupuncture encourage energy to flow freely once again; they are used to treat allergies, arthritis, depression, nausea, migraine headaches, menstrual cramps, and anxiety, according to the philosophy of TCM.

Acupuncture, as the word suggests, punctures the skin with very thin, long needles. They do not resemble the needles you see at a western doctor’s office, for they don’t inject any material. Acupuncture needles are flexible lengths of disposable, hypoallergenic, sterile metal that a trained acupuncturist delicately inserts beneath the skin, into muscle and tissue. When properly done, this shouldn’t hurt at all. The needles reach certain areas, called pressure points, to break up the blockages.

One difference between acupressure and acupuncture arises in the specific application of the techniques. Acupuncture must be performed by a practitioner experienced in TCM. Several pressure points in specific combinations are accessed at the same time. The acupuncturist needs to reach bare skin; therefore the patient usually disrobes prior to being treated.

Anyone can easily learn acupressure from a handbook, especially pressure points that relieve common discomforts. You can perform the miniature massages on yourself, anywhere. Massaging the muscle located between your thumb and index finger is believed to relieve dehydration headaches, while pressing a spot on the inside of your forearm eases motion sickness. Since this is similar to massage, it can be administered through loose clothing.

Acupressure is much older than acupuncture, dating back to 2500 BCE in China. Both practices have been recently evaluated by western standards of medicine; some studies have found them to be efficacious. For example, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and suffering from extreme nausea used acupressure, applied through a bracelet, to curb their nausea with consistent results.

In general, since an acupuncture tool is so thin, it requires greater accuracy, yet might bring quicker relief. On the other hand, acupressure is less precise since the tool is as wide as a finger. Then again, speedy relief can come with side effects from releasing toxins or realigning muscle groups. Acupressure produces fewer side effects, similar to a deep tissue massage, and is more difficult to do “wrongly” to worsen the ailment.

Acupuncture is the most widely practiced technique of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and is focused on by both popular media and scientific research.  An even older practice, acupressure, is also worth noting and exploring for its benefits. Both practices stem from TCM and they share the same view on the body and its Qi network.   Both can also be used to treat symptoms such as pain, nausea, stress, depression etc.  Still, there are some differences between acupressure and acupuncture.

As the name implies, acupressure uses pressure to stimulate Qi points rather than needles.  This pressure can be applied by hand (fingers, palms, elbows, etc.) or tool.  Like acupuncture, acupressure can also reach meridians within the body, such as the large intestine, liver and spleen, to treat the body in different ways.

Clinically, there have been more studies and trials performed on the effectiveness of acupuncture than acupressure.  Still, acupressure does offer some benefits over acupuncture.  Although acupuncture is typically a pain free experience, acupressure, laser or cupping can be used when someone is not comfortable with needles.

Acupuncture and acupressure offer benefits to those seeking treatment for anything from pain to anxiety. Depending on your preference and prognosis, one treatment may be more appropriate than the other so a proper consultation is recommended before proceeding with either treatment.

Although both forms of ancient Chinese medicine deal with alternative ways to heal infections and diseases that reject modern medicines, acupuncture and acupressure are both very different.

  • Acupressure should only be used to treat minor aches and pains
  • Acupressure relieves stress and offers the patient deep muscle and tissue relaxation
  • Acupuncture is used to pinpoint nerves from the source of more serious illnesses
  • Acupuncture is known to treat certain cancers neck back and joint injuries and even fibromyalgia.

Kathy Kiefer




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How   can this joint therapy help me? Is it really appropriate and helpful?   Is it truly effective?

Both massage and acupuncture come from ancient China. They have been part of Eastern medicine for thousands of years, Message involves rubbing and pressing against parts of the body. Acupuncture involves puncturing the skin with needles to realign body energies. These techniques have similar benefits and uses.

Immunity – Both acupuncture and massage impact the immune system. Massage reduces the level of the stress hormone cortisol that damages and kills immune system cells. Additionally, American Acupuncture claims the immune system and the nervous system are linked. When the body feels pain, or when pain is taken away, the nervous system responds either positively or negatively by stimulating the release of other chemicals. When a person relaxes or pain is diverted through massage or acupuncture, stress hormones decrease while pleasure hormones increase, giving the immune system a boost.

Pain Relief – Acupuncture and massage may be useful for relieving pain in a large number of conditions ranging anywhere from a sprained ankle to headaches or asthma. Since the immune system and the nervous system are intertwined, when the immune system attacks invaders, the result is inflammation and pain. By boosting the immune system, massage and acupuncture reduce this inflammation and discomfort. The Mayo Clinic reports that professionals already use massage to relieve pain and stiffness with good clinical results. For this reason, some insurance companies now cover alternative therapies like acupuncture and massage, and more Western doctors are accepting these Eastern methods as viable medical techniques.

Hormonal Conditions – Both acupuncture and massage impact hormone levels in the body by reducing stress. Since hormones in the body are very intricately tied together, people may use massage and acupuncture to manage conditions impacted by hormones such as menstrual cramps, blood pressure, insomnia, infertility and digestive problems. Since hormones also control mood and behavior to a large degree, the Mayo Clinic postulates that massage and acupuncture may be effective treatments for disorders such as depression or anxiety.

Acupuncture is a Chinese medical practice that is thousands of years old. With acupuncture, very fine, solid needles are inserted into the body. The needles are placed according to traditional locations on the body. This treatment is often confused with acupressure that stimulates the same meridians via gentle touch. According to Chinese spiritualism, acupuncture needles are tapping into energy meridians that exist throughout the body, and through which life force, called chi, flows.

So how does it really work? Well, acupuncture is a fairly recent import to the West, making its entrance to America less than four decades ago. Current thinking is that the insertion of needles into the body causes a chemical response, which may involve the release of endorphins or other substances that are produced in response to injury or invasion by a foreign body.

To determine acupuncture points, a pulse and tongue diagnosis is required, along with observation and questioning of the patient. Actual insertion of the acupuncture needles involves a tap at the end. The needles themselves are extremely thin, looking barely more substantial than a hair-like piece of wire. For hygienic reasons, it is very important that the needles being used are disposables, removed from their packaging specifically for your treatment.

Insertion of the acupuncture needles causes minimal discomfort, but, contrary to what you may hear, there can be mild discomfort during the actual treatment (the period of time after all of the needles have been inserted and you’re waiting, motionless, while the treatment takes effect).

Acupuncture is used to treat multiple physical and psychological symptoms. There are patients that believe that an acupuncture facelift can revitalize the facial muscles and increase blood flow to create a more youthful appearance without invasive surgery. Some patients swear by acupuncture for back pain treatment and even turn to acupuncture infertility treatments as an alternative to drug therapy for conception in other circles, a course of acupuncture treatments are used to curb habits, and acupuncture to stop smoking has grown in popularity over the last few years.

Before booking an appointment with an acupuncturist, it’s a good idea to do some online research. Find out the name of the governing body for the profession in your district and ensure that the massage therapist you’ve selected is certified. Also, be leery of an acupuncturist who oversteps his/her bounds. An acupuncturist is not a physician. It’s a good idea to consult your physician before embarking on a course of acupuncture.

Acupuncture’s efficacy is fairly well-established. The positive effects of acupuncture have been documented. Scientific investigations have found that acupuncture can help the body maintain homeostasis, moderate inflammation responses, relieve pain and promote general health and well-being. Many insurance providers will also recognize this and cover acupuncture treatments for policy holders.

Acupuncture Massage.   It is the combination of two words.

Acupuncture is an ancient study. It is a technique that has been done for thousands of years as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Acupuncture uses a method of inserting needles into specific points (acupuncture points) in the body. Acupuncture points are located throughout the body.

There are yin and yang points throughout the body including the hands and the feet.

Massage is the practice of applying structured pressure, tension, motion or vibration — manually or with mechanical or electrical aids — to the soft tissues of the body, including muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments, joints and lymphatic vessels, to achieve a beneficial response.

A form of therapy, massage can be applied to parts of the body or successively to the whole body, to heal injury, relieve psychological stress, manage pain, and improve blood circulation. Where massage is used for its physical and psychological benefits, it may be termed “therapeutic massage therapy” or manipulative therapy.

To summarize, Acupuncture Massage is the practice of applying structured pressure, tension, motion or vibration — manually or with mechanical or electrical aids to specific points on the body.

The Advantages of Acupuncture Massage in short are:  You are not using needles. You are applying massage to precise points to achieve the most benefits in the shortest period of time.

The balance of Chi or Qi in some books (is a term used to describe vital energy in the body) is the very foundation of being alive and functioning in Traditional Chinese Medicine technologies.
If there are deficiencies of Chi, there can be pain and illness.  Pain is supposed to mean that there is a blockage or a poor flow of Chi.

If there is a problem with the systems or a disease is present, acupuncture tries to address this by attempting to modify the activity of one or several of the systems of function.
Each acupuncture point, one way or another, are connected to each organ in the body.

Addressing massage to specific acupuncture points, releases blocked Chi and helps your body’s immune system to finish the job. Some acupuncture points are very easy to identify. They are points of pain (back pain, neck pain and so forth).

Even though there are more than 1000 acupuncture points on the body, you don’t need to know more than 10-20 acupuncture points to help you or members of your family with some “everyday” problems without a deep knowledge of acupuncture science.

Relaxation is necessary for maximum therapeutic benefits to be achieved.

The procedure treats the body as a whole. It works to improve the function of several systems that are associated with several physical organs in the body. This is why acupuncture massage is so good for you.

You are archiving relaxation by massage and unblocking Chi by massaging acupuncture points. They help to restore the body through a method of yin and yang.    It is like killing two birds with one shot, so to speak.

There are many ways in which acupuncture massage can provide excellent results and without the harmful side effects of medications. In fact, in many cases, it can be safer to treat conditions with acupuncture massage than with medications.

Kathy Kiefer


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Acupressure, a non-invasive form of acupuncture, uses physical pressure applied to acupressure points by the hand, elbow, or with various devices.   Acupuncture is often accompanied by moxibustion, the burning of cone-shaped preparations of moxa (made from dried mugwort) on or near the skin, often but not always near or on an acupuncture point.   Traditionally acupuncture was used to treat acute conditions while moxibustion was used for chronic disease.   Moxibustion could be direct (the cone was placed directly on the skin and allowed to burn the skin producing a blister and eventually a scar), or indirect (either a cone of moxa was placed on a slice of garlic, ginger or other vegetable, or a cylinder of moxa was held above the skin, close enough to either warm or burn it).  Cupping therapy is an ancient Chinese form of alternative medicine in which a local suction is created on the skin; practitioners believe this mobilizes blood flow in order to promote healing.  Tui na is a TCM method of attempting to stimulate the flow of qi by various bare handed techniques that do not involve needles.   Electro-acupuncture is a form of acupuncture in which acupuncture needles are attached to a device that generates continuous electric pulses (this has been described as “essentially transdermal electrical nerve stimulation masquerading as acupuncture”).    Sonopuncture or acutonics is a stimulation of the body similar to acupuncture, but using sound instead of needles.  This may be done using purpose-built transducers to direct a narrow ultrasound beam to a depth of 6–8 centimeters at acupuncture meridian points on the body.   Alternatively, tuning forks or other sound emitting devices are used.   Acupuncture point injection is the injection of various substances (such as drugs, vitamins or herbal extracts) into acupuncture point.  Auriculotherapy or ear acupuncture is a form of acupuncture developed in France which is based on the assumption of reflexological representation of the entire body in the outer ear.  Scalp acupuncture is based on reflexological considerations regarding the scalp area; it has been developed in Japan.   Hand acupuncture centers around assumed reflex zones of the hand; it has been developed in Korea.   Medical acupuncture attempts to integrate reflexological concepts, the trigger point model, and anatomical insights into acupuncture practice, and emphasizes a more formulaic approach to acupuncture point location.    Cosmetic acupuncture is the use of acupuncture in an attempt to reduce wrinkles on the face.

The application of evidence-based medicine to researching acupuncture’s effectiveness is a controversial activity, which has produced different results in a growing evidence base of research.   Some of the research results suggest acupuncture can alleviate pain but others suggest, not inconsistently, that acupuncture’s effects are mainly due to placebo.  It is difficult to design research trials for acupuncture.   Due to acupuncture’s invasive nature, one of the major challenges in efficacy research is in the design of an appropriate placebo control group.  For the efficacy studies to determine whether acupuncture has specific effects, “sham” forms of acupuncture seem the most acceptable method for a control group.   An analysis suggested that sham controlled trials may underestimate the total treatment effect of acupuncture (i.e. the incidental therapeutic factors such as talking and listening which are characteristic of the intervention), as the sham treatment is based on the hypothesis that only needling is the characteristic treatment element.

A review found acupuncture to provide clinically significant relief from knee osteoarthritis pain and a larger improvement in function than sham acupuncture, standard care treatment, or waiting for treatment.  The Osteoarthritis Research Society International released a set of consensus recommendations concluded acupuncture may be useful for treating the symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee. A review found that acupuncture shows statistically significant benefit over sham acupuncture in the treatment of peripheral joint osteoarthritis; however, these benefits were found to be so small that their clinical significance was doubtful, and “probably due at least partially to placebo effects from incomplete blinding

Brain imaging studies have shown that traditional acupuncture and sham acupuncture differ in their effect on limbic structures, while at the same time showed equivalent analgesic effects.    A review for the American Pain Society/American College of Physicians found fair evidence that acupuncture is effective for chronic low back pain.

Acupuncture is generally safe when administered using clean technique and sterile single use needles.    Between 2000 and 2009, ninety-five cases of serious adverse, including five deaths were reported.   Many such events are not inherent to acupuncture but are due to malpractice of acupuncturists.  This might be why such complications have not been reported in surveys of adequately-trained acupuncturists.   Most such reports are from Asia, which may reflect the large number of treatments performed there or it might be because there are a relatively higher number of poorly trained Asian acupuncturists. Many serious adverse events were reported from developed countries.  This included Australia, Austria, Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the US.   The number of adverse effects reported from the UK appears particularly unusual, which may indicate less under-reporting in the UK than other countries, 38 cases of infections were reported and 42 cases of organ trauma were reported.  The most frequent adverse events included pneumothorax, and bacterial and viral infections.  When not delivered properly by a qualified practitioner it can cause potentially serious adverse effects.   To reduce the risk of serious adverse events after acupuncture, acupuncturists should be trained sufficiently.

The most common adverse effect observed was infection, and the majority of infections were bacterial in nature, caused by skin contact at the needling site.   Infections have also been caused by skin contact with unsterilized equipment or dirty towels, in an unhygienic clinical setting. Other adverse complications included five reported cases of  spinal cord injuries (migrating broken needles or needling too deeply), four brain injuries, four peripheral nerve injuries, five heart injuries, seven other organ and tissue injuries, bilateral hand edema, epithelioid granuloma, pseudo lymphoma, argyria,  pustules, pancytopenia, and scarring due to hot needle technique. Adverse reactions from acupuncture, which are unusual and uncommon in typical acupuncture practice, were syncope, galactorrhoea, bilateral nystagmus, pyoderma gangrenosum, hepatotoxicity, eruptive lichen planus, and spontaneous needle migration.

When used on children, acupuncture is safe when administered by well-trained, licensed practitioners using sterile needles; however, there was limited research to draw definite conclusions about the overall safety of pediatric acupuncture. The same review found 279 adverse events, of which 25 were serious. The adverse events were mostly mild in nature (e.g. bruising or bleeding). The prevalence of mild adverse events ranged from 10.1% to 13.5%, an estimated 168 incidences were among 1,422 patients.   On rare occasions adverse events were serious (cardiac rupture or hemoptysis), many might have been a result of substandard practice. The incidence of serious adverse events was 5 per one million, which included children and adults. When used during pregnancy, the majority of adverse events caused by acupuncture were mild and transient, with few serious adverse events.  The most frequent mild adverse event was needling or unspecified pain, followed by bleeding. Although two deaths (one stillbirth and one neonatal death) were reported, there was a lack of acupuncture associated maternal mortality. Limiting the evidence as certain, probable or possible in the causality evaluation, the estimated incidence of adverse events following acupuncture in pregnant women was 131 per 10,000.  In pregnant women needle insertion should be avoided in the abdominal region

As with other alternative medicines, unethical or naïve practitioners may also induce patients to exhaust financial resources by pursuing ineffective treatment.    Profession ethical codes set by accrediting organizations such as the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine requires practitioners to make “timely referrals to other health care professionals as may be appropriate.”  Acupuncture is a key component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  An editorial in the journal Nature stated that TCM is largely pseudoscience, with no valid mechanism of action for the majority of its treatments.   It has notions of a pre-scientific culture, similar to European humoral therapy.  According to TCM, the general theory of acupuncture is based on the premise that bodily functions are regulated by an energy called qi which flows through the body; disruptions of this flow are believed to be responsible for disease. Acupuncture describes a family of procedures aiming to correct imbalances in the flow of qi by stimulation of anatomical locations on or under the skin (usually called acupuncture points or acupoints), by a variety of techniques. The most common mechanism of stimulation of acupuncture points employs penetration of the skin by thin metal needles, which are manipulated manually or by electrical stimulation.

Actuation is of all physical processes in the body, especially the circulation of all body fluids such as blood in their vessels. This includes actuation of the functions of the zang-fu organs and meridians.   Defense against Exogenous Pathogenic Factors.   Containment of body fluids, i.e. keeping blood, sweat, urine, semen, from leakage or excessive emission.     Transformation of food, drink, and breathe into qi, xue (blood), and jinye (“fluids”), and/or transformation of all of the latter into each other.

To fulfill its functions, qi has to steadily flow from the inside of the body (where the zang-fu organs are located) to the “superficial” body tissues of the skin, muscles, tendons, bones, and joints.  It is assisted in its flow by “channels” referred to as meridians. TCM identifies 12 “regular” and 8 “extraordinary” meridians.   There are also a number of less customary channels branching off from the “regular” meridians.  Contemporary research has not supported the existence of qi or meridians.  The meridians are believed to connect to the bodily organs, of which those considered hollow organs (such as the stomach and intestines) were also considered yang while those considered solid (such as the liver and lungs) were considered yin. They were also symbolically linked to the rivers found in ancient China, such as the Yangtze, Wei and Yellow Rivers.

Acupuncture points are mainly (but not always) found at specified locations along the meridians. There is also a number of acupuncture points with specified locations outside of the meridians; these are called extraordinary points and are credited to treat certain diseases.   A third category of acupuncture points called “A-shi” points have no fixed location but represent tender or reflexive points appearing in the course of pain syndromes. The actual number of points have varied considerably over time, initially they were considered to number 365, symbolically aligning with the number of days in the year (the number of bones thought to be in the body). The Nei ching mentioned only 160 and a further 135 could be deduced giving a total of 295.   The modern total was once considered 670 but subsequently expanded due to more recent interest in auricular (ear) acupuncture and the treatment of further conditions.   In addition, it is considered likely that some points used historically have since ceased being used.

Kathy Kiefer