Acupuncture is the insertion of very fine needles into specific points of the body that help stimulate natural healing. The physicians of ancient China observed that when certain points on the body are stimulated, distant parts of the body, including the internal organs, are affected. These points occur on predictable energetic pathways called meridians. By selecting and needling points on the meridians, an acupuncturist can address a range of issues including pain, digestive disorders, and relief from the stresses of modern-day life.
Most of us associate needles with hypodermics used in injections at the doctor's office; however, acupuncture needles share little in common with them. Hypodermic needles are thick and hollow, and tear flesh when they enter the body. Acupuncture needles are hair-thin and solid. When the needle is inserted, there is often a slight prick, like the feeling of a hair being pulled, followed by varying sensations of warmth, tingling, or a radiating dull ache. Needles are inserted from a few seconds up to an hour or more, depending on the patient's constitution and the nature of their complaint. During acupuncture, patients commonly experience heaviness in the limbs, a pleasant feeling of relaxation and may even fall asleep.