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Does Acupuncture Have Side Effects?
Acupuncture is one of the many health practices of the East that have permeated Western culture. Originating thousands of years ago in China, it is most commonly used to treat pain. Many people also volunteer to have acupuncture as part of a therapeutic experience or spa treatment.
Western scientists are still not sure how or why acupuncture works. However, according to traditional Chinese medicine, the hair-thin needles that are inserted into the skin help to balance qi, which is the natural life energy flowing through the human body. This may sound far-fetched to the scientific mind. Nevertheless, unlike many other types of alternative medicine, most doctors agree that acupuncture is an effective way to treat pain. In fact, the practice offers a much safer alternative to most medications.
The side effects
Even so, like any other medical procedure, there are some side effects to consider. The obvious first side effect stems from the initial pain of inserting the hair-thin needles. There may also be minor bleeding in these areas. However, this is typically short-lived. In rare instances, some people may also suffer headaches, nausea and vomiting for a day or so after the procedure. Still, acupuncture is safe and FDA-regulated. The only major concern patients should have is that practitioners are using sterile needles.
Mayo Clinic also warns that some people are at greater risk of developing complications than others. These include the following:
- Pregnant women
- People who rely on pacemakers
- People who have a bleeding disorder
How to prepare
One of the best ways to reduce the likelihood of complications is to get the green light from your physician. You should also prepare for the treatment. There are no diets or special routines you need to follow before booking an appointment. Instead, the recommended preparation involves selecting the right practitioner. Here are some tips.
Your doctor may provide recommendations for acupuncture offices you can visit. If they are unable to do so, then consider asking around. You may have a family member, colleague or friend who has tried acupuncture before. Because it is used to treat pain, consider asking your friends who suffer from chronic pain-related illnesses.
Once you have made your shortlist of recommended practitioners, remember to check their credentials. Passing an exam is required in most states when a physician is not the person administering the treatment. You should also ask any questions you may have at this time. Finally, it is a good idea to check with your insurance company about whether or not it will cover the cost.
The bottom line
Whether for profit or genuine concern, medical practitioners usually frown upon alternative forms of medicine from the East. However, when it comes to acupuncture, the general consensus among doctors is that it is safe, it is healthy and it yields results. Like most medical procedures, however, it may not be the best solution for everyone. If you have any of the risk factors highlighted above, you should seek medical advice before scheduling an appointment.
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