What is Acupuncture? by Nicole Rotondi

Acupuncture is one of the fastest growing health professions in this country. Millions of people around the world have tried acupuncture for conditions such as arthritis pain, headaches, lower back pain, asthma and breathing problems, gastrointestinal difficulties, menstrual issues, anxiety and depression. The World Health Organization recognizes the usefulness of acupuncture for these conditions and many more. The National Institute of Health also states that acupuncture is a useful treatment for a variety of problems and may be successfully included in a comprehensive management program. But even though such prestigious endorsements exist, many people never take the opportunity to try acupuncture for their problems. I believe that most people do not try acupuncture simply because they have a misconception about the treatment, and are just not aware of what true acupuncture is all about.

First, let's review some common misconceptions about acupuncture. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a painful experience. Even though needles are used during the treatment, they are very thin and are inserted in such a way that it is virtually painless. Most people who try acupuncture for the first time are surprised at how pleasant the experience is. And not only is it painless, the treatment itself actually promotes relaxation, so it helps the body and mind at the same time. In fact, licensed acupuncturists have one of the lowest malpractice insurance rates because the risk of injury is so small. Acupuncture is also not based on the "placebo effect;" it is an effective treatment for many conditions. One way that we can see that acupuncture really works is from successfully treating babies, toddlers and animals. These populations are not aware of the “placebo effect.” Acupuncture has been in existence longer than modern medicine, and has survived because of its efficacy. Acupuncture is not a "miracle cure" even though the effect of the treatments can be incredible. All too often, a person waits to try acupuncture as a last resort for their condition, and then expects a single treatment or two to solve chronic health problems that have accumulated over many years.

Acupuncture helps the body to balance the energy contained within it. This energy (also called "Qi") flows within various pathways in the body, and when the flow of energy is plentiful and uninhibited, there is health and vitality. But, whenever there is no free flow of energy in the body, disease, illness and pain occur. With proper acupuncture treatment, the body is gently stimulated to bring the body's energy back to balance. Acupuncture is considered a "wholistic" therapy, because it takes into consideration the state of your whole body. We can see the benefits of wholistic therapy with cases where many symptoms exist that seem unrelated. For example, someone might be experiencing a burning sensation on their tongue, weakness or pain in their lower back, craving for salty food and hot flashes at night. Even though these symptoms seem unrelated, they actually belong to one "syndrome" that can be treated by acupuncture.

Most people tend to try acupuncture when all else has failed and there is nothing left to do medically - they have tried everything else for their condition, and now they are willing to try acupuncture. Waiting until this time to try acupuncture is not a problem, in fact, many times acupuncture can display it's greatest strength by treating illnesses that are difficult to treat. However, the best time to try acupuncture is at the onset of symptoms, after seeing a doctor for a diagnosis. Doing acupuncture at this time is very beneficial because it is usually easier to correct an illness or pain syndrome before it progresses into something more chronic. Acupuncture can also be performed in conjunction with other therapies, and may be used safely with medication, exercises and dietary therapy.

First, get a comprehensive acupuncture evaluation in order to determine if acupuncture is the right therapy for your particular problem. With an evaluation, the acupuncturist will ask questions relating to the problem and other questions relating to the general state of your health and well being. They will also perform a "tongue and pulse diagnosis" which is not to be confused with a medical diagnosis.

During a tongue and pulse diagnosis, the acupuncturist will be able to determine the general state of your body. This type of diagnosis is used to confirm the exact placement of acupuncture needles along the various meridians and to also determine whether or not herbs would be beneficial. Sometimes, the acupuncturist may ask if they can feel the energy pathways and areas of pain.

Nicole V. Rotondi is a New York State licensed acupuncturist with a master's degree in Oriental Medicine. She specializes in Chinese and Japanese needle techniques and traditional herbal formulas. Her practice is located at Universal Health and Rehabilitation, 152 Islip Ave (Rte. 111), Islip. Please call 631-277 6767 for more info.