You can use acupuncture effectively as a nonconventional treatment for pain if you know how it works. An acupuncture practitioner in Overland Park sticks extremely thin needles into certain points known as acupoints on your body. Acupuncture originated in China more than 3,000 years ago. This treatment became a household word in the United States in the early 1970s when it was introduced as a way to relieve postsurgical pain. This article will talk about the various theories that try to explain how acupuncture works.

Theories of Traditional Chinese Acupuncture

There is a big difference in the way the Chinese explains how acupuncture works than the theories provided by Western medical experts. Based on the belief of TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) practitioners, the universe, nature and the human body possess two complementary and at the same time opposing forces known as yin and yang. Yang is the active force while yin, the passive.

These practitioners also believe that the body is alive and thrives due to continuous flow of energy known as Qi (pronounced chee). This Qi flows through energy channels known as meridians branching out all over in the human body. An area or organ of the body is associated with one or more of these meridians. The correct and uninterrupted flow of QI (energy) and the proper balance of yin and yang equal good health. When Qi is disrupted or blocked in some way, an imbalance of yin yang results, which in turn, leads to illness.

The flow of Qi can be manipulated using around 400 acupoints on the body. Each of these points are connected in one way or another with one or more meridians. These acupoints are found near the skin’s surface. To bring back the normal flow of Q, an acupuncturist needs to stick extremely fine needles into designated acupoints, using a variety of combinations.

Theories of Western Acupuncture

Western researchers have a very different explanation on how acupuncture heals the body. One suggestion is that during an acupuncture treatment “feel-good” chemicals are produced and released into the spinal cord and the brain (central nervous system) which alleviates pain. The researchers have found that acupuncture activates nerves in the spinal column that release neurotransmitters, that helps ameliorate pain. This theory has actually been validated by one medical study that used brain images revealing acupuncture does in fact enhances a person’s threshold for pain.

One other theory of Western medicine is that acupuncture helps enhance the circulation of blood around body regions being treated. This boost of blood flow betters the removal of toxins and supplies nutrients in the body. Western researchers have also discovered that acupoints conduct electromagnetic signals in the body. When an acupuncture needle stimulates an acupoint, this accelerates the speed in which bio-electromagnetic signals are sent. The signals then dispatch natural opioids, such as endorphins, to the injured or ailing part of the body, which in turn, lessens the sensation of pain.


The United States National Institute of Health released a report stating that acupuncture was a valid treatment for several different types of medical conditions. This modality of healing was particularly potent in the decrease of dental pain post-surgically. The institute also said that acupuncture is a valid treatment for the reduction of vomiting and nausea associated with anesthesia or chemotherapy. It also added that the treatment was found to work for tennis elbow, addictions, stroke, menstrual cramps, osteoarthritis, lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma among several others. The report also revealed that the side effects of acupuncture are less adverse than those caused by surgery or prescription medications. Acupuncture is slowly being considered by a growing number of people in the United States who are dissatisfied with Western conventional medicine or fear the adverse side effects of drugs, or both. Universities such as the UCLA have added acupuncture classes in their school curriculum. The United States Food and Drug Administration in 1995 began the regulation of acupuncture needles in order to prevent or at least minimize the rise of injuries, accidents, or infection related to acupuncture needle use. Learning more about acupuncture and how it works can result in better management of pain and ultimately healing.