How Does Acupuncture Work

Acupuncture has been used by Chinese doctors for more than 5,000 years to treat a host of symptoms, medical and psychological conditions. Acupuncture is based on the premise that various body systems such as muscular, skeletal, cardiovascular and nervous have energy systems in the body.

These energy systems are comprised of pathways that run from the top or head to the ends of our fingers and toes. Most of the energy pathways, or rivers, lie within an inch or two of the outer layer of skin, but some actually run deeper into the body.


The energetic pathways are known as meridians. The body contains 12 main meridians. These meridians extend along both sides of the body. Two other meridians runs directly to the center of the body.

Each meridian contains acupuncture points, those parts of the meridian that run closest to the skin’s surface. Due to their proximity to the surface, these points are more easily accessible to the acupuncturist.

Acupuncturists penetrate the skin and insert their fine, pointed needle tips into the meridian point. While some patients expect pain with each piercing, the pain is actually minimal because the needles are so fine. Acupuncture needles are tiny in comparison to the needles used for drawing blood or for intravenous feeds. Most patients express there is little to no pain when licensed and experienced acupuncturists are administering care.

Who Uses Acupuncture

Acupuncturists administer therapy for patients suffering a wide number of ailments, including both physical and emotional stress. Indeed, many emotional conditions are caused by imbalances in the body and in the meridians. In many cases, the pathways have more than the recommended amount of energy while at other times the energy levels may not be sufficient. The success of acupuncture is based upon restoring appropriate energy levels to healthy limits.

Very often, pathways with excess energy are blocked causing an effect compared to a dam on a river, except when the body’s energy clogs the meridians, bad things happen. The pathways are designed to transport energy evenly throughout the body.

When the acupuncturist uses the small needles to open the pathways, energy is released and the body once again regains normal flow and sustains healthy energy levels. The needles also allow for introduction of new energy into areas that have suffered shortages.

Pain Relief

The balance created by unblocking clogged pathways or by adding energy to depleted meridians usually provides relief from pain, stress, stomach uneasiness or menstrual pain, exhaustion, anxiety and many other disturbing physical or emotional conditions. Today, many physicians recommend acupuncture for patients enduring persistent pain or medical conditions. The range of conditions treated by acupuncturists is broad and includes treatments for such conditions as;

  • Fertility
  • Skin conditions
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Digestive system irregularities
  • Back pain
  • Sleep disorders
  • Menstrual cramps
  • More

The number of treatments required depends upon a few factors, including the nature of the ailment. In some cases and for lucky patients, their medical or emotional condition can be treated effectively with one acupuncture treatment. However, for chronic conditions, therapy can be ongoing for six months or longer. Very often acupuncture patients receive treatments on a weekly basis.

Physicians and health insurance providers finally recognize the effectiveness of this ancient alternative health practice, known to help patients maintain a strong immune system and to promote good overall health. Acupuncture is now recognized and covered by most insurance carriers in the U.S.