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General Internal Medicine

department of medicine

Section of general internal medicine


Acupuncture Overview


acupunctureAcupuncture encourages the body to promote healing and to improve functioning. This is done by inserting needles and applying heat or electrical stimulation at specific acupuncture points.

Acupuncture is a very old medical art that dates back over 2,000 years. Today, acupuncture is practiced widely worldwide, and is increasingly used by patients and doctors in the United States. Acupuncture treatments can be used alone or together with other therapies, such as conventional Western medicine and osteopathic manipulations.





How Acupuncture Works


The classical Chinese explanation is that channels of energy called “Qi” (pronounced “chee”) run through the body. The body functions at its best when the energy flow is normal. A blockage in the flow of energy causes symptoms or disease. Acupuncture can relieve these blockages, and reestablish regular energy flow. Acupuncture treatments can therefore help the body to correct imbalances.

The modern scientific explanation is that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals change the experience of pain, or trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body's own internal regulating system.

The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body's natural healing abilities, and in promoting physical and emotional well-being.



What is Medical Acupuncture?


Medical acupuncture is performed by a doctor licensed in Western medicine who has also trained in acupuncture as a specialty practice. Such a doctor can use one or the other approach, or a combination of both to treat an illness.



Conditions Treated with Medical Acupuncture


Medical acupuncture is a system which can influence three areas of health care:

  • Promotion of health and well-being
  • Prevention of illness
  • Treatment of various medical conditions

While acupuncture is often associated with pain control, in the hands of a well-trained practitioner it has much broader applications. The World Health Organization recognizes the use of acupuncture in the treatment of a wide range of medical problems, including:

  • Digestive conditions: gastritis, nausea and vomiting, constipation, diarrhea
  • Respiratory conditions: sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, sore throat, bronchitis, asthma
  • Neurological and muscular conditions: headaches, facial pain, neck pain, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, various forms of tendinitis, knee pain, low back pain, sciatica, osteoarthritis
  • Gynecological/obstetric conditions: primary dysmenorrhea, morning sickness
  • Other: adverse reactions to chemotherapy, post-operative pain

Acupuncture is particularly useful in resolving physical problems related to tension and stress.




To learn more about Acupuncture at Temple General Internal Medicine, please click here.




Frequently asked questions (FAQs), please click here.