The classical Chinese explanation is that channels of
energy run in regular pattems through the body and
over its surface. These energychannels, called meridians,
are like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate
and nourish the tissues. An obstruction in the movement
of these energy rivers is like a dam that backs up in others.
The meridians can be influenced by needling the
acupuncture points; the acupuncture needles unblock
the obstruction at the dams, and reestablish the regular
flow through the meridians. Acupuncture treatments can
therefore help the body's internal organs to correct
imbalances in their digestion, absorption, and energy
production activities, and in the circulation of their
energy through the meridians.
The modem scientific explanation is that needling the
acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to
release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain
These chemicals will either change the experience of
pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals
and hormones which intluence the body's own internal
The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body's
natural healing abilities, and promoting physical and
People experience acupuncture needling differently.
Some people feel the initial insertion as a mere prick;
some feel no pain at all. Once the needles are in place,
there is no pain felt. There can be a heavy sensation or
tingling sensation. This is described in acupuncture
literature as the sensation of the qi "coming to
Acupuncture needles are very thin and solid and are
made from stainless steel. The point of the needle is
smooth and not hollow as blood drawing needles. In
fact, 10 acupuncture needles could fit inside one blood
drawing needle. Insertion of the needle is also not as
painful as injections or blood sampling.
Patients visits are usually scheduled once weekly,
although two or three visits each week are not uncom
mon especially during the initial stages of an acute
problem. When a favorable response lasts for the full
week between visits, the interval is opened to 2 weeks.
As the response stabilizes for a 2 week period, the
interval is opened again to 3 weeks, then 4 weeks.
When the symptoms are stable for 4 weeks, a decision
is made as to whether the patient should retum for a
maintenance treatment in another month or 6 weeks or
call for an appointment only if the condition retums.
Chronic pain problems typically require maintenance
treatments at 1-month, 6 week, or 2 month intervals.
Medical problems of lesser severity and chronicity can
often be resolved adequately and do not require main
tenance treatments, although chronic medical problems-even when they respond well to acupuncture-typically call for quarterly maintenance treatments.