Without a doubt the most well known techniques of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is acupuncture. Although, the term acupuncture in the west has almost become a synonym for Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is only one of the many techniques under the TCM umbrella.
Following the general theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine in that proper physiological function and health depend on the circulation of nutrients, substances and energy called Chi (pronounced "chee") through a network of "channels" or "meridians", acupuncture attempts to unblock the channels when they become congested. This is done by the insertion of very thin needles in very specific points on the body. Modern acupuncture needles are stainless steel, between one-half and three inches long, ultra-fine and quite flexible. They are pre-sterilized, nontoxic and disposable (single use). When the needles are tapped into the skin, there may not be any sensation. Much depends on the location (hands and feet tend to be more sensitive), the condition being treated and the acupuncturist's technique. Needles are typically placed in several acu-points and are usually left in about 20-30 minutes. The goal is to normalize the circulation of Chi and Blood by stimulating the energy point, which encourages the body's natural healing process. Stimulation can be done by rotating the needles manually or attaching electrodes to send a weak electric current through the needles (electro acupuncture).
The number of treatments depends upon the duration, severity and nature of the patient's health condition. Two or three treatments may be sufficient for an acute condition, while a series of 5 to 15 treatments may be needed to resolve chronic conditions. Some degenerative conditions may require ongoing treatments over a long period of time.
Some of the most common disorders treated by acupuncture include: addictions, allergies, ankle swelling, arm and shoulder pain, arthritis, asthma, attention deficit disorder, back pain, bed wetting, blood pressure (high or low), bronchial conditions, bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, circulation (poor), colds, colitis, colon (spastic), constipation, cough (chronic), depression, detox for chemical dependency, diarrhea, discs problems, diverticulitis, dizziness (vertigo), emphysema, fatigue (chronic), feet, (cold), fibromyalgia, flu, gall bladder disorders, gas, gynecological dysfunction, hay fever, headache, heart problems, hemorrhoids, hiccoughs, hip pain, immune system deficiency, indigestion, infertility, injuries, insomnia, joint pain, kidney problems, knee pain, leg pain (cramps, tingling, numbness), liver problems, neck (stiff, painful), nervousness, neuralgia, pain, pleurisy, pre menstrual syndrome, prostate problems, rheumatism, sciatica, shingles, shoulder pain, sinus problems, skin problems, sport injuries, stomach problems, throat (sore), thyroid conditions, ulcers (stomach), urinary problems, and whiplash.