Acupuncture is the use of needles with fine points placed at varied distances into the tissue at specific points for the purpose of stimulating acupuncture points located along meridians. Research has demonstrated that acupuncture can effectively treat infertility, pain,
and other conditions. Acupuncture may also be used for general well-being and maintenance of one's vitality.
Before an acupuncture session, the practitioner assesses the patient's health using both Western and Chinese techniques. Needles are then placed in the appropriate points and left for between 15 and 45 minutes. Pain may be experienced at some acupuncture points depending on tissue sensitivity, degree of patient relaxation and sensitivity of the body area. Once the needles are in place, endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, help the patient feel a sense of relaxation. A session usually lasts 30 to 60 minutes.
Risks include infection, puncture of a vital organ and bleeding. Infection is rare, because sterile disposable needles are used. An acupuncturist is trained to be aware of all anatomical structures in the area of acupuncture point. Bleeding, when it occurs, is usually minimal. Relative contraindications to acupuncture include use of blood thinning medication and pregnancy.