As always, seek professional advice before using any of the methods listed.
"Acupuncture", the word is from the Latin, 'acus' meaning needle + 'punctura' meaning to puncture. It is the stimulation of specific acupuncture points along the skin of the body involving a method involving the penetration of specific points of the skin by thin needles, it can also be the application of heat, pressure, or laser light.
The clinical practice can vary depending on the country.
Traditional acupuncture involves needle insertion, and cupping therapy.
It is a form of Alternative Medicine and a key part of traditional Chinese medicine.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, stimulating specific "acupuncture" points corrects imbalances in the flow of Qi through channels known as meridians.
Acupuncture aims to treat a range of conditions, though is most commonly used for some form of pain relief.
Evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture is "variable and inconsistent" from condition to condition.
It has been suggested that acupuncture may alleviate some, but not all, kinds of pain. A systematic review of systematic reviews found that for reducing pain, real acupuncture was no better than sham acupuncture and concluded that there is little evidence in traditional scientific circles that acupuncture is an effective treatment for reducing pain.
Some of the research results suggest acupuncture can alleviate pain but others consistently suggest that acupuncture's effects are mainly due to placebo.
Some of the evidence suggests that short-term treatment with acupuncture does not produce long-term benefits, but other evidence suggests that it is highly effective.
An analysis found that acupuncture for chronic lower back pain was cost-effective as an alternative to standard care, but not as a substitute for standard care, while a systematic review found insufficient evidence for the cost-effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of chronic low back pain.
Acupuncture is generally safe when done by an appropriately trained practitioner using clean techniques and single-use needles, also when the needles are correctly delivered.
Between 2000 and 2009, at least ninety-five cases of serious adverse events, including five deaths, were reported to have resulted from acupuncture. The majority of any serious events were reported from developed countries and many were due to malpractice.
The most frequently reported adverse events were pneumothorax and infections.
Since there has been a reported continuation of some serious adverse effects, it is recommended that acupuncturists be trained sufficiently to reduce the risk.
Acupuncture has been the subject of active scientific research, both in regard to its basis and therapeutic effectiveness, since the late 1990s. Scientific investigation has not found any histological or physiological evidence for traditional Chinese concepts such as Qi, meridians, and acupuncture points, and some contemporary practitioners use acupuncture without following the traditional Chinese approach and have abandoned the concepts of Qi and meridians as pseudoscientific.
Acupuncture is currently used widely throughout China and many other countries, including the UK and USA.
It is uncertain exactly when acupuncture originated or how it evolved, but it is generally thought to derive from ancient China.
Chinese history attributes the introduction of acupuncture to the emperor Shennong. Hieroglyphs and pictographs have been found dating from the Shang Dynasty (1600–1100 BCE), which suggests that Acupuncture was practiced along with Moxibustion.
In 2000, the Chinese Medicine Registration Board of Victoria, Australia (CMBV) established an independent government agency to oversee the practice of Chinese Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture in Australia. Acupuncturists in New South Wales are bound by the guidelines in the Public Health (Skin Penetration) Regulation 2000.
Acupuncture is regulated in five provinces in Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland.
Since acupuncture is deregulated in Finland many people without education in healthcare are able to give acupuncture treatment.
Since 1955, the French advisory body Académie Nationale de Médecine (National Academy of Medicine) has accepted acupuncture as a treatment.
The German acupuncture trials were a series of nationwide acupuncture trials set up in 2001 and published in 2006 on behalf of several German statutory health insurance companies due to a dispute as to the usefulness of acupuncture.
Traditional/lay acupuncture is not a regulated health profession. Osteopaths have a scope of practice for Western Medical Acupuncture and Related Needling Techniques.
Acupuncturists are not a nationally regulated in the United Kingdom. Acupuncture practice is regulated by law in England and Wales for health and safety criteria under The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions).
In 1996, the Food and Drug Administration reclassified acupuncture needles as a Class II medical device, meaning that "general acupuncture use" is done by licensed practitioners. All states permit acupuncture to be administered; some by physicians only and some by acupuncturists under medical supervision, and some with no supervision.