Acupuncture involves the insertion of extremely thin needles through your skin at strategic points on your body. A key component of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is most commonly used to treat pain.

Traditional Chinese medicine explains acupuncture as a technique for balancing the flow of energy or life force — known as qi or chi (CHEE) — believed to flow through pathways (meridians) in your body. By inserting needles into specific points along these meridians, acupuncture practitioners believe that your energy flow will re-balance.

In contrast, many Western practitioners view the acupuncture points as places to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue. Some believe that this stimulation boosts your body's natural painkillers and increases blood flow.

Why it's done Risks How you prepare What you can expect Results

Acupuncture is used mainly to relieve discomfort associated with a variety of diseases and conditions, including:

  • Chemotherapy-induced and postoperative nausea and vomiting
  • Dental pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches, including tension and migraine headaches
  • Labor pain
  • Low back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Menstrual cramps

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