How Acupuncture Works and the Results It Has for Pain

Sticking needles in your body may sound painful, but acupuncture isn’t bad. The procedure has been used for thousands of years. By stimulating the nerve system, acupuncture causes it to send impulses throughout the body. These signals include decreasing pain and promoting healing. The nerve signals also tell the body to release certain chemicals.

How It Works

In traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture works by activating the body’s qi, an energy that regulates your spiritual, emotional and physical health. It is believed that disease occurs when your qi becomes blocked. Nerve endings that provide signals to the brain and spinal cord are stimulated when needles are placed into the skin. By blocking pain signals, the brain also generates feel-good chemicals like endorphins, which can help you unwind and lessen worry. Higher brain-derived neurotrophic factor molecule levels have been linked to Ming Health acupuncture. It may also alter the release and function of neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine, that play a role in mood and memory. Acupuncture can be used alone or in conjunction with other treatment approaches. The majority of individuals can receive acupuncture without any issues. It’s important to find an acupuncturist who has met standards for education and training and uses clean needles.

Side Effects

Acupuncture is safe for most people but can cause minor discomfort and pain during treatment. The needles themselves can cause a mild pain sensation, and some may feel tingling. The needles stimulate the nervous system and can cause your body to release natural morphine-like substances called endorphins. They can also trigger the production of serotonin and other chemicals that reduce pain, promote healing and help you relax. Other neurotransmitters that acupuncture can influence include dopamine, norepinephrine, GABA, acetylcholine and oxytocin. These are important in regulating pain, mood, stress response, sleep, cognitive function and emotional well-being.

Some people notice a change in their symptoms right away, while others may experience a gradual improvement. Patients generally feel more balanced after a series of treatments from Your practitioner will suggest a frequency and schedule unique to your specific condition. Typically, you will return to your practitioner weekly for 2-4 weeks, then have a re-evaluation and adjust your treatment plan accordingly.


Acupuncture is a safe medical technique when performed by a trained expert. It can lessen the need for painkillers and has a very low likelihood of complications. Single-use, sterile needles are used for the procedure. They differ from the hollow needles used for vaccinations or blood draws, which can cause pain by puncturing skin.

Acupuncturists believe that your energy or qi circulates through pathways called meridians, and when this flow is disrupted, it leads to illness. Qi balance can be improved through acupuncture, supporting the body’s inherent capacity for self-healing—acupuncture sessions generally last 45 to 60 minutes on a comfortable padded table.

You may feel a slight prick or a tickle when the thin needles are inserted. Once the needles are in place, your practitioner may twirl or move them, apply heat, use mild electrical pulses, or give you an acupressure massage. The experience is generally very relaxing. After a session, many people report feeling a jolt of energy.


Studies have shown that acupuncture reduces the production of stress hormones in the body and increases mood to help people feel more relaxed. Acupuncture also enhances a person’s immune system. It lowers the levels interleukin-6, a cytokine that contributes to inflammation and can make someone more susceptible to infection. Acupuncture stimulates a peptide called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, which helps neurons to survive and grow and is important for memory, learning, and emotion.

It also affects the release and function of neurotransmitters that support cognitive health. Acupuncture is generally safe when done by a licensed practitioner who uses pre-sterilized needles. Complications are rare but can include a bleeding spot, bruising, or an accidental needle insertion into a blood vessel. Talk with your doctor before you get acupuncture. Tell them all your treatments and medicines, including dietary supplements, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter medications. They may need to adjust your dosages.


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