What is acupuncture? Acupuncture is an ancient art of healing that originated in China nearly 2,000 years ago. Today, licensed practitioners use it to treat a number of conditions – the most common being chronic pain. During the treatment, thin, disposable needles are gently inserted into the skin at specific sites based on ancient maps of energy meridians that course through the body. Patients lay still while between five and 20 needles are placed in the pressure points. The treatment usually lasts 20-30 minutes. What does acupuncture do? Acupuncture, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is meant to balance chi that flows through certain pathways in the body. The pathway points generally correspond with specific nerves and organic structures, leading Western practitioners to believe that the needles may also help to stimulate specific nerves and boost circulation. Does acupuncture hurt? Generally, no. Some people feel a slight prick as the needles go in, others feel nothing at all. The needles are different to hypodermic needles in that they are solid and thin, as opposed to hollow and thick. What are the benefits of acupuncture? Patients can turn to acupuncture when Western medicine is unable to provide a solution to a health problem, or inflicts significant side effects. Western practitioners also often recommend acupuncture as a complement to more traditional treatment plans. What can acupuncture treat? Acupuncture is most commonly used to provide relief for sufferers of chronic pain. Several studies have shown it to have positive effects on musculoskeletal problems like lower back and neck pain, as well as nausea and headaches. Acupuncture can also assist with ailments such as menstrual cramping, insomnia and fibromyalgia, though there is less scientific evidence to support this. How often should appointments be scheduled? While the treatment plan will depend on individual circumstances and the nature of the condition being treated, most practitioners agree that one session of acupuncture is not enough. Most plans include six to 12 sessions over the course of a few months.  
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