Acupuncture is an ancient Eastern healing art that has gained a great deal of traction in Western medicine. It is accepted by both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) as a complementary treatment for many conditions. Research shows that acupuncture actually creates microtraumas that jumpstart the body’s natural healing responses, while inducing biochemical changes in the brain that can relieve pain.
Acupuncture typically involves the insertion of small, thin, hollow needles into the skin at precise locations. Eastern practitioners believe that these locations direct the flow of Qi, the essential life force that flows through all living things. Although Qi is not recognized in Western medicine, the traditional acupuncture points are used because they work. The effects of acupuncture can last for weeks.
Cupping is a unique form of acupuncture that uses cups to create a gentle vacuum on the skin and top layers of the muscles. It is a sort of reverse massage technique, in which the cups pull rather than push on the muscles. You might be most familiar with it from the 2016 Summer Olympics, when decorated swimmer Michael Phelps and many other American athletes appeared with the distinctive reddish circles on their skin. Cupping soothes angry muscles and creates a feeling of relaxation and rejuvenation that can last for several days.
Acupuncture and cupping are generally considered safe and effective when used in tandem with other treatment methods. However, like any other medical treatment, they are not right for everyone. Your physical therapist will carefully review your medical history, your current state of fitness, and the nature of your pain. He or she will conduct a thorough evaluation of your posture, gait, and range of motion. With all of this information in hand, your therapist will develop a personalized treatment plan to meet your needs.
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Acupuncture & Cupping FAQs
What is acupuncture and how does it help?
Acupuncture is meant to restore balance to the body and promote healing by stimulating specific acupuncture points with the insertion of thin, sterile needles into the skin. Traditional Chinese medicine believes that this allows the body’s energy—or qi—to flow more freely, which helps the body heal from disease. In Western medicine, it’s hypothesized that stimulating the nerves in the acupuncture points affects the neurohormonal pathways.
Does acupuncture really work?
Yes, acupuncture is an effective treatment for chronic pain and many other disorders. Our patients have experienced dramatic improvements in their symptoms with the help of acupuncture.
What are the benefits of acupuncture?
In addition to promoting healing in the body and alleviating chronic pain, acupuncture can reduce stress, relieve headaches, boost the immune system, and leave you feeling more energized.
Does acupuncture work immediately?
The response to acupuncture can vary from person to person and it also depends upon the condition being treated. While some patients experience relief immediately after their acupuncture session, others may see improvements in a few days, and still others may require a few acupuncture sessions in order to experience noticeable results.
What should you not do after acupuncture?
After an acupuncture session, you can go back to work and resume your daily activities, but it’s best to avoid strenuous exercise and any other activities that are physically taxing. It’s also recommended that you avoid alcohol and caffeine for the rest of the day after your treatment.
What are the negative side effects of acupuncture?
There are very few risks or negative side effects of acupuncture, with the most common being minor bleeding, soreness, or bruising where the acupuncture needs were inserted. Some patients may also experience dizziness and a feeling of faintness immediately after their acupuncture session, but this typically resolves quickly.
Do acupuncture needles get reused?
No, we never reuse acupuncture needles. The needles we use are designed to be for single-use only. After each patient, the needles are disposed of in a sharps box.
Does acupuncture hurt the next day?
Yes, it’s common to have some soreness at the insertion sites for up to a day after your acupuncture session, but it’s rare for the sites to be sore beyond that.
What are the benefits of cupping?
Cupping is used to enhance the benefits of acupuncture treatment. Cupping can help relieve pain, increase blood flow in the targeted area, and relax the muscles.
How often should you do cupping?
Cupping can be used during each of your acupuncture sessions with us, or as needed. Your therapist will help you decide the right cupping schedule for your needs.
Does cupping hurt?
There are some locations on the body where cupping can produce discomfort. The pain is similar to a massage on sore muscles—many patients describe it as a “good pain.”
Can I take a shower after cupping therapy?
You shouldn’t shower immediately after you’ve had an acupuncture session with cupping. Instead, keep the area where you received cupping therapy covered and warm.
What is better, acupuncture or cupping?
We think acupuncture and cupping are best used together as complementary therapies. You’ll get more out of each therapy by pairing them with each other during your sessions with us.