What is Western Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an age-old treatment involving the insertion of needles in the body to specific depths. This treatment encourages healing by stimulating the release of feel-good hormones and enhancing other bodily functions that allow the body to repair itself. Acupuncture currently has two modalities, the Chinese acupuncture, which is the original form of the treatment and Western acupuncture, which has its bearing in Chinese acupuncture.
Acupuncture has been used to treat the symptoms of many conditions, but current evidence from clinical trials mainly supports its efficacy (compared with placebo) in alleviation of nausea, and relief of various types of pain. Its activity in these different symptoms suggests that acupuncture does not have a single mode of action but a range of effects on various functions which increases the complexity of both understanding and researching acupuncture.
Western medical acupuncture uses knowledge drawn from anatomy, physiology, and pathology. Although this treatment relies on findings gathered from modern day science, it still gets valuable guidelines from Chinese acupuncture. The notable difference of Western acupuncture to Chinese acupuncture is it does not use the conventional concepts of Yin/Yang and the circulation of qi when delivering treatments. However, since this treatment relies on the foundation of Chinese acupuncture, WMA continues to rely on the use of needles to target pressure point in the body that offer the healing effect.
Western medical acupuncture involves stimulation of the nervous system through local antidromic action reflexes, segmental neuromodulation among other treatments done on the central nervous system. Application of this treatment is during primary care and the conditions targeted by it include those related to musculoskeletal pain such as trigger point pain. This treatment also helps to reduce postoperative pain and nausea.
Difference between WMA and Chinese acupuncture
Some of these beliefs associated with Chinese acupuncture were abandoned when Felix Mann, a scientist in the 1970s declared that acupuncture points and meridians do not exist. However, that does not mean Chinese acupuncture is irrelevant. This practice is still in use in many places around the world, offering plenty of success as an alternative form of medical treatment.
Western acupuncture brought with it a number of considerations, like the depth of inserting the needle, proper identification of acupuncture points and subcutaneous needling for parts of the body with tender tissues. This has enabled the treatment to be more accurate even though acupuncture remains an invasive treatment.
Modes of Action
Acupuncture has been successful in the treatment of various conditions offering better results than placebo, which is one of its control treatments. Acupuncture treatment has numerous modes of action and that is why it is more effective in the treatment of pain.
Common effects of acupuncture include stimulation of the nervous system, local antidromic axon reflexes, the release of neuropeptides such as calcitonin gene, enhancing the functioning of salivary glands and improving circulation. In addition, acupuncture promotes the release of opioid peptides and serotonin that help to mitigate pain and reduce depression. Acupuncture helps to treat musculoskeletal pain by inhibiting the nociceptive pathway. Another condition treated by acupuncture is Myofascial pain. For this condition, pressure points that are targeted using acupuncture are the same ones used years ago. However, the effects of acupuncture in the treatment of nausea have not yet been fully established.
Uses of medical acupuncture
Treatments done using western medical acupuncture are applied in primary care, rheumatology, pain clinics and orthopedic centers. Its purpose is mainly to treat pain. The main targets include
musculoskeletal pain and some forms of chronic pain like cancer pain. Few applications are applied to suppress procedural pain, nausea and pain resulting from an operation. Acupuncture also treats infertility by working as an adjunct in treatments such as in vitro fertilization.
Advantages of Western acupuncture
Acupuncture helps to correct the condition and not just reduce the pain. Some patients feel energized and relaxed after the treatment. Rarely do patients complain about discomfort when the needless are inserted in their bodies. Above all, this treatment is identified as an effective alternative to conventional medical treatment.