Acupuncture is a branch of Chinese medicine that aims to create balance and harmony of the energy in the body, which is called qi.
This balance in Western medicine is known as homeostasis. There is a famous saying in Chinese medicine that guides all treatments for pain:
“Where there is free flow, there is no pain,
Where there is no free flow, there is pain.”
The body functions best in homeostasis, and is always trying to get back to that state.
Acupuncture uses points on the body that are theorised to be connected together in a larger network, which can be used to remove these blocks to allow the body to heal itself and help to free flow to resume.
How it does this is still unclear in Western medicine.
Some theorise that it may use the fascial planes throughout the body, others that it uses the nervous system.
What is known is that stimulating acupuncture points creates changes locally around the point, as well as in the nervous system and brain.
Just because we don’t know exactly how something works, it doesn’t mean that it should be avoided, if it is safe and effective. For example, Panadol (paracetamol) is the most sold medicine in Australia for pain relief, but we still don’t know how it works!
But it is known to be mostly safe, and modestly effective, so people use it and doctors recommend it.
Acupuncture as a system of treatment has been around for over 1,000 years. It is known to be safe and effective, even if exactly how it does this is still unclear to the Western world.
What is clear is that acupuncture treatments can be very effective at relieving pain both in the body and the mind.