What is Acupuncture?


Acupuncture is not what you think. The word Acupuncture describes many different techniques used by a variety of health care providers to treat a range of health problems.

As is most widely understood, acupuncture is considered to be a part of traditional Chinese medicine. In this form Acupuncture relies on classical, pre-scientific theories about the nature of the universe and our place in it. As such, it is akin to a religious worldview; with its most exacting practitioners claiming that scientific approaches are inferior or unable to address the subtle mysteries of our world. Most of these acupuncturists also utilize Chinese herbal remedies for common health problems. Some believe that these herbal combinations, which were developed over the past thousand years, are superior to most western pharmaceuticals. The organizing principle of this approach is that we become “unbalanced” through suboptimal lifestyles and mental states. The goal is to “re-balance” the “energies, blood and fluids” in the person. Needles are placed in locations that have access to these energies often in conjunction with prescribed herbal remedies that affect the overall balance of energy and fluids. Counseling is given to alter lifestyle so as to achieve a more harmonious communion with others and the universe.

Western medical acupuncture is based on current understanding of anatomy and physiology. While some practitioners incorporate information from traditional acupuncture into their medical practices most completely ignore the classical theories and utilize a neurophysiological model. Using western, science-based approaches, and information gathered from controlled trials, they treat conditions proven amenable to specific acupuncture protocols.

Acupuncture needles have been used to treat musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction has been few thousand years. Relatively recently, other health professionals such as physical therapists and chiropractors have begun using an acupuncture technique called “dry needling” to address these health issues. The technique was originally developed by European and American medical doctors and researchers, involving the injection of saline and pain numbing drugs into painful muscle knots, which appeared to be a major source of musculoskeletal complaints and was given the name: “trigger point injection”.

Studies later showed that, for the most part, the injected substances were unnecessary. In fact, it was the manipulation of the needle in the contracted tissue that resolved pain and restored function. The technique, also known as trigger point needling, dry needling, or acupuncture treatment of myofascial origin has a slight but important variation in technique from the injection method.

Acupuncturists complete a 3-year course of study with thousands of hours of needling practice. Acupuncturists who utilize evidence-based, scientific approaches are better prepared and more highly skilled than other health care providers who have taken short courses in needling, which consists of a maximum of a few hundred hours. Licensed Acupuncturists are also able to expand on proven acupuncture techniques which have been shown to improve overall function at the same time as they treat painful symptomatic areas.

At Mark Thompson Acutherapy, we provide the latest scientifically-backed Acupuncture techniques to effectively relieve pain and restore function to get you back to doing what you love.