What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a treatment derived from ancient Chinese medicine in which fine needles are inserted at certain sites in the body for therapeutic or preventative purposes. It is often seen as a form of complementary or alternative medicine (CAM), although it is used in many NHS general practices, as well as the majority of pain clinics and hospices in the UK.
Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific acupuncture points along the skin of the body using thin needles. It is a form of alternative medicine.
The most common mechanism of stimulation of acupuncture points employs penetration of the skin by thin metal needles, which are manipulated manually.
Acupuncture needles are typically made of stainless steel, making them flexible and preventing them from rusting or breaking.Needles are disposed of after each use to prevent contamination. Needles vary in length between 13 to 130 millimetres (0.51 to 5.12 in), with shorter needles used near the face and eyes, and longer needles in areas with thicker tissues; needle diameters vary from 0.16 mm (0.006 in) to 0.46 mm (0.018 in). The thinner needles are applied to more sensitive areas.
Acupuncture is commonly used for pain relief, though it is also used to treat a wide range of conditions. The majority of people who seek out acupuncture do so for musculoskeletal problems, including low back pain, shoulder stiffness, and knee pain. Acupuncture is rarely used alone but rather as an adjunct to other treatment modalities.