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Acupuncture - Get to the Point!

Renee Lehman
Licensed Acupuncturist

(4/1) So, you have intermittent knee pain, tension headaches, and occasional constipation. You may be used to asking the question, "What is causing each of these different problems?" Put aside the thought that these are three different problems, and have three different causes. Be open to the thought that they are all interconnected. Instead, ask the question, "What is the relationship between these different problems".

When someone has back pain and asks if acupuncture can fix their back, it is important to realize that acupuncture is not about "fixing" the back pain. It is about treating the entire person and getting to the root of the problem. Just like if something was wrong with branches of a tree, you would treat the whole tree and not just the branches.

Acupuncture is a healing art that originated over 3,000 years ago in Asia. It is the oldest continuously practiced medical system in the world. Acupuncture balances the flow of natural vital energy, or Qi (pronounced "chee"), which flows through all living things. This Qi flows through the body on specific pathways called Meridians, and is essential for health.

When the Qi is balanced, moving smoothly, and in sufficient quality and quantity, health and wellness are promoted. When the Qi is unbalanced or blocked in any way, disease or dis-ease, will occur. This dis-ease may show up as symptoms on a physical, mental/emotional, or spiritual level. For example, on a physical level, aches or pains could occur; on the mental/emotional level, someone could experience obsessiveness, indecisiveness, lack of self-esteem, or have a difficult time concentrating. Finally, on a spiritual level, someone could be resentful, live with constant sadness or fear, or have the inability to experience joy. It is important to realize that these symptoms are only the end result of an imbalance, and not the illness itself.

Pain and impaired function are signals from the body, mind, and spirit that there is something wrong within us that needs to be attended to. So, just like the tree example, the whole person needs to be addressed and not just the symptoms. The underlying root of dis-ease is addressed rather than just treating the symptoms.

So how does acupuncture work? Consider what happens to the water flow (Qi) in a stream (Meridian) when beavers build a dam (dis-ease). By placing an acupuncture needle into an acupuncture point on the Meridian (stream), the smooth Qi flow (water) is restored, and balance is brought to the dis-ease (dam is gently broken open).

Because the body, mind, and spirit are one, individuals receiving acupuncture often experience a heightened sense of relaxation and well-being along with their complaints being addressed.

Acupuncture Benefits and More…

In the first part of this two part series on acupuncture, its history and how acupuncture works was described. In this part the scope of acupuncture benefits and more will be addressed.

So why would someone try acupuncture? While acupuncture is widely known to relieve pain, it is also helpful for many conditions in which pain is not the primary symptom, including a wide variety of chronic conditions. It can be used for almost any physical or emotional problem, or simply the desire to stay well. Does this surprise you?

Actual illness or symptoms of disorders need not be present to benefit from acupuncture. Acupuncture is known to activate the immune system, enliven the senses, and offer a sense of alert calm or relaxation. Healthy individuals can benefit from this supportive complementary health care.

People from all walks of life use acupuncture for many different reasons. People who might particularly benefit include those with chronic pain or other symptoms not responding to western medical treatment; those for whom there are limited medical interventions; those whose complaints have no easily determined cause; those whose symptoms seem to be associated with or worsened by stress; and those who would like additional support for their prescribed treatment to help cope with side-effects or to improve vitality (for example, to help those with side effects of chemotherapy).

Remember that acupuncture is particularly useful since it addresses the deeper, underlying root of dis – ease rather than relying on symptomatic treatment alone. Treatment evidence supports that you are more likely to get sick less often and recover more quickly if you do get sick; that your vitality and stamina will improve; you will be more able to take an active role in your health; health concerns other than those for which you began treatment may respond favorably; and you will have a reduction in long-term health care costs.

The 1997 National Institutes of Health Consensus Conference on Acupuncture stated, “The data in support of acupuncture are as strong as those for many accepted Western medical therapies.” The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture’s ability to treat over 43 common disorders (see table 1).

Acupuncture Can Be Effective in Treating: (According to the World Health Organization)

  • Addictions - Nicotine, alcohol, other drugs, drug withdrawal, food addictions
  • Musculoskeletal Pain - Stiffness, arthritis, muscle spasms, sprains, joint pain, low back / neck pain
  • Stress/Emotions - Depression, anxiety, insomnia, panic attacks, mood swings
  • Digestive Conditions - Constipation, diarrhea, colitis, nausea, indigestion
  • Pain - Neuralgia, headaches, migraines, TMJ, carpal tunnel
  • Urogenital Conditions - Incontinence, urinary tract infections, sexual dysfunctions
  • Gynecological Conditions - PMS, irregular periods, cramps, menopause, infertility
  • Preventative Medicine - Immune enhancement, relaxation, life transitions
  • Immune System Conditions - Rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, HIV/Aids
  • Respiratory Conditions - Allergies, sinusitis, asthma, bronchitis, colds / flu, COPD

And, if you have any questions about the risks associated with acupuncture, there are minimal risks or side effects. In fact, the 1997 National Institutes of Health Consensus Conference on Acupuncture stated, “One of the advantages of acupuncture is that the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted medical procedures used for the same conditions.”

Finally, you may ask “What about the needles”? “Do acupuncture needles hurt?” The needles used for acupuncture are extremely fine and flexible. They are only as thick as one to two human hairs! The needles are sterile, and disposed of after one use. The sensation when the needles are inserted varies from person to person. Some people report a temporary sense of heaviness in the area of the needle insertion, while others don’t even feel the needle insertion.

Renee Lehman is a licensed acupuncturist and physical therapist with over 20 years of health care experience. Her office is located at 249B York Street in Gettysburg, PA. She can be reached at 717-752-5728.

If you have any questions regarding acupuncture, you may e-mail me at

Read other article on well being by Renee Lehman