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Understanding Acupuncture

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Acupuncture is a commonly practiced alternative healthcare treatment with its roots in traditional Chinese medicine. It is endorsed by the Medical Board of Australia and can be used to treat pain or to reduce stress and improve wellbeing. You can book acupuncture sessions at selected spas, health centres and alternative health practices, but you should always ensure your practitioner is qualified before undergoing treatment.

Acupuncturists believe the nerve endings throughout the body can be stimulated using acupuncture to realign and balance the body's energy, known as qi. When the body's qi is out of balance, illness can take hold, muscles can become tight and the immune system may not function optimally. If you're considering booking your first acupuncture session, it's important to be aware of what the treatment involves and when acupuncture may not be appropriate. Here's an overview of commonly treated conditions, the treatment process and when acupuncture may not be a suitable treatment approach:

Commonly Treated Conditions

Acupuncture is a suitable treatment option for almost any condition, but there are some conditions that acupuncture is more often associated with, such as tension headaches, migraines, back pain, menstrual cramps and allergic rhinitis. Acupuncture can also be used to treat nausea and vomiting induced by chemotherapy, and it's a popular treatment for those undergoing fertility treatment, with one study reporting a significantly higher pregnancy rate in IVF patients who underwent acupuncture.

The Treatment Process

Acupuncture is typically delivered as a course of at least six treatments, but the number of treatments you need will depend on the condition you are seeking treatment for and the severity of your symptoms. Your acupuncturist will ask a number of questions during your initial appointment to help them create an effective treatment plan for you. These questions may be relating to your lifestyle, symptoms and daily habits.

There are acupuncture points all over your body and you may need to remove some clothing depending on the treatment site, but a gown or towel will be provided. You will lie on a padded table for the duration of your treatment, and very thin acupuncture needles will be inserted into the relevant acupuncture points on your body. You may not feel the needles at all or you may feel a mild sensation of heat, but the treatment isn't painful. The needles may be manipulated gently during treatment and you may feel them being moved until the acupuncturist feels they are at the right depth for them to be of benefit. The needles will then be left in place for around a quarter of an hour. After treatment you may feel relaxed or energised, but you shouldn't feel any pain or discomfort caused by the treatment.

Limitations Of Acupuncture

There are some situations when acupuncture may not be suitable, such as if you have a bleeding disorder or take blood thinning medication, as you may develop bleeding or bruising from the treatment. Additionally, acupuncture during pregnancy is considered to carry a small risk of stimulating labour. If you are taking any medication, you should discuss the suitability of acupuncture with your doctor and your acupuncturist.

Acupuncture is a safe and often relaxing treatment option to explore if you're interested in alternative medicine and looking for a drug-free treatment option for a health concern. During your initial appointment, your acupuncturist will be happy to answer any questions before you undergo treatment.