Top 5 Acupuncture Myths
Debunking Fact From Fiction. How much do you know about this ancient medical art that now has a ton of science backing it up?
Are you considering trying acupuncture? Has it been recommended to you? Know someone who can’t stop raving about it?
Acupuncture has seen a dramatic rise in popularity among healthcare providers as a viable form of treatment because of its ability to alleviate pain, prevent disease, and promote wellness. Despite all this, there’s still some huge misconceptions about acupuncture. And our guess is you may have been afraid to try it because of, well… the needles. (Spoiler alert: That’s our #1 MYTH.) So before you’re convinced that acupuncture is some sort of folk medicine or, even worse, that it doesn’t work, give what we know and have researched a read.
Here’s our top 5 common myths about acupuncture.
Myth 1: Acupuncture is painful. A needle is gonna hurt.
For most people, the thought of needles will send a shiver up their spine. It’s a common reaction. But it shouldn’t be with acupuncture.
The reality is there’s hardly any discomfort with acupuncture because the needles used are so fine and so thin. In fact they are so small, they’re often referred to as “pins.” These pins bear no resemblance to the needles used for injections or drawing blood and are literally about the size of a kitten’s whisker.
You’ve heard athletes use the phrase, ‘no pain, no gain’. But so many athletes at the highest levels of every sport use acupuncture, that the phrase for acupuncture should be ‘No pain and tons of gain.’
“Acupuncture is a gentle procedure which can lead to immediate symptom reduction and sense of calm and relaxation.” Dr. Christine Oakley, a chiropractor at IPM says. “Patients get in a comfortable position on the exam table, and then we start. While there may be a slight little pinch with the pin set-up, a deep relaxation typically occurs within minutes. Most of the time, patients don’t even notice that they’re there. Our goal is to make treatment as comfortable as possible.”
Acupuncture at IPM can be so comfortable that Dr. Oakley points out, “We’ve had patients fall asleep during their acupuncture session.”
Myth 2: Acupuncture is ancient folk medicine. No legitimate healthcare professional would recommend it.
Acupuncture is ancient. But it’s also a widely accepted treatment and is encouraged and used by many medical institutions. Both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recognize acupuncture as a valid treatment for a wide range of conditions and can help manage certain pain conditions. Even the United States military uses acupuncture.
Several health care and government organizations including The American College of Physicians (ACP), The Joint Commission, State Attorneys General as well as the White House, have highlighted complementary and alternative medicine, including acupuncture as an effective and first line of treatment for chronic pain. In fact, with the rise of the opioid epidemic in the United States, many doctors are limiting opioid prescriptions in favor of natural medicine.
A Los Angeles Times article reported that 42% of hospitals responding to a survey said they offered complementary and alternative medicine treatments, including acupuncture, as a service to their patients. Penn Medicine conducted their own research study with breast cancer patients that showed promising results.
And that’s not all. According to U.S. News, a growing number of medical schools are supplementing their traditional curriculum with courses in complementary and alternative medicine, including acupuncture.
Myth 3: Acupuncture is only for treating pain
It is true that acupuncture does wonders for pain management. However, clinical studies have found acupuncture has been shown to reduce other side-effects and conditions including headaches and migraines, depression, nausea, stress, anxiety, and gynecological conditions as well. The list is quite long. Way too long to include in this article but make sure you check it out on our acupuncture page.
Nausea and vomiting.
Chemotherapy side effects.
High blood pressure.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Hypertension and hypotension.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Neurological disorders, including multiple sclerosis, paralysis, autism, Parkinson’s disease, aphasia, vertigo, complex regional pain, stroke rehab, dysphagia, traumatic brain injury, fibromyalgia.
With that said, the most common reason patients receive acupuncture treatments is for pain management. And the most frequent treatments at IPM are done with our rehab patients, those with sports injuries or patients who have recently had an operation.
Myth 4: You’ll need a doctor’s referral or a prescription for acupuncture
This should be the easiest debunking ever.
“No referral is needed for acupuncture performed in our offices,” states Dr. Scott Kenny, IPM owner and Fellow at the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture.
So are doctor referrals taken? Absolutely. Dr. Josh Eldrenkamp, an IPM Chiropractor in Roselle notes, “A lot of people do learn about acupuncture and are referred to us from their doctor. But a lot of our referrals are also from friends and colleagues who have simply recommended this treatment so strongly.”
Myth 5: Patients can become addicted to acupuncture.
Acupuncture’s effects are cumulative, building with each treatment. Some people with acute and minor issues respond quickly, often within one, two or three treatments. Others need a course of eight to ten treatments to see a notable improvement.
The response to acupuncture is always an individual one. However, although patients may need to go to a few acupuncture sessions in order to reap the benefits, it is not addictive. As a matter of fact, acupuncture is actually used to help with addiction recovery. Medical journals such as the Journal of Public Health have shown acupuncture, when used in combination with education, is beneficial to recovering those addicted to tobacco. Acupuncture affects the dopaminergic system in the brain and is also used to relieve stress, which can provide a huge help to those battling any type of addiction.
Contact Us Today
If you are in pain or have any other condition that might benefit from acupuncture and would like to find out if it’s right for you, please do not hesitate to call. We will immediately find a time to see and assess what treatment plan, acupuncture or otherwise, may work best for you.
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