Dr. Nguyen, Virginia Spine Institute's acupuncture specialist, performs treatments in our dedicated acupuncture suite to help patients obtain overall wellness and reach specific treatment goals.
Acupuncture is among the oldest healing arts in the world, and has been practiced in China and other Asian countries for thousands of years. It is a discipline extracted from a complex heritage of Chinese medicine that includes massage, manipulation, stretching and breathing exercises and herbal remedies. The earliest source of acupuncture teaching and theory is the Huang Di Nei Jing (the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic), dating to the Han dynasty in the 2nd century BC.
The term “acupuncture” describes a family of procedures involving the stimulation of anatomical points on the body using a variety of techniques. The acupuncture technique most often studied scientifically involves inserting thin, metallic, specialized needles into the skin which are then manipulated manually or electrically. In traditional Chinese Medicine, good health is achieved by maintaining the body in a balanced state. Disease, illness and pain are attributed to an internal imbalance of Yin and Yang. This imbalance leads to a blockage in the natural flow of qi, vital energy, along certain pathways referred as meridians. Acupuncture is used at specific points along the certain meridians where the qi is felt to be blocked.
How Can Acupuncture Help with Pain?
In the United States, acupuncture has found its greatest acceptance and benefit in the treatment and management of musculoskeletal pain. Acute musculoskeletal and myofascial conditions such as sprains, strains, spasms and contusions are among the problems most frequently and successfully treated to resolution with acupuncture. In such cases, acupuncture can be legitimately considered as a first line treatment. Chronic musculoskeletal pain problems are also commonly and appropriately treated with acupuncture but more as adjunctive therapy. According to the practice guidelines issued by the American Pain Society and the American College of Physicians in 2007, acupuncture is one of the Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) therapies practitioners should consider for patients with chronic low back pain that has been refractory to conventional treatment.
How Is Acupuncture Performed?
Acupuncture needles are metallic, solid and hair-thin. Patients experience acupuncture differently. Most patients feel minimal or no pain as the needles are inserted superficially. Needles are inserted to the depth necessary to elicit the patient’s sensation of de qi or needle grab, a dull ache that radiates from the point. Acupuncture needles remain inserted for 15 to 30 minutes. Patients receiving acupuncture treatment may either feel energized or relaxed after the treatment. Patient visits are usually scheduled once a week for four to six weeks initially, however the frequency and length of treatments may vary depending on the condition being addressed.