Acupuncture is one of the oldest medical practices in the world, having been used in China and other areas of Asia for thousands of years. Acupuncture involves the stimulation of anatomical points on the body that are connected along pathways known as meridians, using a variety of techniques. Most often, this will involve penetrating the skin with thin, metallic needles, with or without electrical stimulation.
Acupuncture is recognized by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as being “widely” practiced by thousands of physicians, dentists, acupuncturists and other practitioners to successfully treat a wide variety of conditions, including pain, digestive function, infertility, headaches, and more. Acupuncture is currently even covered by some insurance companies and the reimbursement programs are growing, especially for the treatment of chronic pain. According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, which included a comprehensive survey of CAM use by Americans, an estimated 3.1 million U.S. adults and 150,000 children had used acupuncture in the previous year.
I was only 19 years old when I was first exposed to acupuncture. After 6 months of being bounced from one doctor to another for intense pain throughout my entire body, coupled with fevers and fatigue, I was given a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (which in my opinion are diagnoses of exclusion when the answers are yet to be found). My physician at the time, a pain specialist, gave me 2 options: a spinal pain block that would be placed in my lumber vertebrae so that I could administer pain medication to myself as needed, or try acupuncture.
Having grown up in a very isolated corner of Northeastern PA, where not even massage therapy was common and there were certainly no yoga classes, I was skeptical of Complementary Medicine, and wondered how laying on a table with pins in my body could help me. Was I ever wrong.
I was privileged to meet David and Ming-Ming Molony, the owners of Lehigh Valley Acupuncture in Catasaqua, PA. My total physical, emotional and spiritual well-being were assessed in a way I never experienced before, and a treatment plan was tailored to address the integration of all of these components. The discomfort was quite minimal while the acupuncture needles were being inserted, and any discomfort was well worth the feeling both during the treatment and afterwards. Within a few months, nearly all of my pain was relieved. It came back, however, after I discontinued treatments. Months later, after extensive testing and clinical assessments, I was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease. It took doctors 2 years to figure it out due to controversy surround the Western Blot.
Although acupuncture could not cure a rampant bacterial infection, I marvel at the fact that not a single prescription I was given to manage my pain came close to the effect acupuncture had. More importantly, I never viewed medicine in the same way again. Today I take advantage of the best of both traditional and complementary medicine and encourage others to do so as well.
Here are some great resources detailing the theory and physiology of acupuncture in better detail:
Best of health to you!