Does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture has successfully treated more people over the last 2,000 years than all other treatment modalities combined. Acupuncture is practiced throughout Asia and Europe. It has become more common in the United States after it was initially brought to the public awareness in 1971 via a front page article in the New York Times. James Reston, a New York Times reporter, described that three acupuncture needles controlled his post-operative pain after an emergency appendectomy. Reston was on an assignment in Beijing covering the ping-pong tournament between China and the United States when he underwent the appendectomy. In 1972, President Richard Nixon and his personal physician visited China and observed surgeries using acupuncture for pain control. In 1997, the National Institute of Health officially recognized acupuncture as an acceptable part of a comprehensive treatment program for many conditions. Acupuncture can be used in conjunction with conventional western medicine and other modalities. Acupuncture is even used successfully on many different animals such as dogs, cats, and horses.

How many acupuncture treatments are necessary?

Response to acupuncture treatments differs among individuals. For more difficult problems or chronic problems of long duration, 1 to 2 treatments per week for several months may be required before a decision regarding the effectiveness of acupuncture can be reached. For acute problems, fewer treatments may be adequate; and for overall health maintenance, 4 treatments a year may be all that is required.

How does acupuncture feel?

Acupuncture needles are very thin and only a bit larger than a strand of hair. The point is smooth, unlike the common hypodermic needles which have a cutting edge. Therefore, insertion of the needle is not as painful as injections or giving blood and there is less bruising. Although people are unique in their sensation to pain, most patients feel only minimal pain with needle insertion, and some feel no pain at all. After the needle is inserted, there is usually no pain.