Traditional Acupuncture & Medical Acupuncture


Acupuncture is the main form of treatment used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and is the oldest continually practiced form of medicine in the world, with written records dating back almost 2500 years. It is perhaps the most respected complementary health care system worldwide and has been accepted and promoted by the World Health Organization to treat many illnesses and disorders.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Consensus Conference on Acupunctures in 1997 states: “The data in support of acupuncture are as strong as those for many accepted Western medical therapies. One of the advantages of acupuncture is that the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than that of many drugs and other accepted medical procedures used for the same conditions…. Many studies in animals and humans have demonstrated that acupuncture can cause multiple biological responses. These responses can occur locally, i.e., at or close to the site of application, or at a distance, mediated mainly by sensory neurons to many structures within the central nervous system. This can lead to activation of pathways affecting various physiological systems in the brain as well as in the periphery.”

Medical Acupuncture is the term used to describe acupuncture performed by a physician licensed in allopathic or ‘Western’ medicine who has also had thorough training in acupuncture as a specialty practice. It expands on the traditional acupuncture practice by incorporating our current understanding of neuromuscular anatomy and pain physiology, as well as utilizing advances in technology in order to augment the therapeutic properties of the treatment. 

While acupuncture has found its greatest acceptance and success for management of musculoskeletal pain in the United States, perhaps the most promising opportunity for acupuncture is for subtle symptoms and complaints that often come with normal lab results or imaging studies, and those that may precede an actual diagnosis of a more serious or definitive illness. Oftentimes patients may present to their primary doctor or to a specialist with complaints that end up being attributed to stress and anxiety, or as a minor problem where the only prescribed course of action is watchful waiting or lifestyle modification.  However, the acupuncture/TCM diagnostic paradigm offers a more holistic understanding of these types of early disturbances, and thereby allows an appropriate intervention. This form of preventive maintenance can be an extremely valuable dimension of acupuncture.

Useful Link:  What's This Acupuncture All About?