Will I have pain with acupuncture?
The answer is definitely no. During the last twenty years, scientists have given great emphasis in order to understand the feeling that the patient experiences from the penetration and handling of the needle by the medical therapist.
Groups of researchers have created a scale called “Subjective Scale of Perception through the Senses of Acupuncture”. Various modifications have been made to this scale, most recently the McGill pain scale. This study includes senses which describe what each patient feels during treatment. This study makes possible to differentiate between two basic senses. The feeling of pain and the feeling of deqi.
The pain is caused by the penetration of the skin while the deqi is due to stimulation of deeper structures in the acupuncture points.
When acute pain occurs this is most likely due to careless, wrong or harmful stimulation. On the contrary, the feeling of deqi could be described by the patient as one or more of the following: numbness, tingling, fullfilment, mild pressure and weight or electrical discharge’ and it is positive evaluation. The patient may experience this sensation locally or at a distant point of the treated meridian. According to studies, with the help of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI) there is a strong link between the sense of deqi and the clinical effect in acupuncture therapies which are based on the theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
In which cases / conditions acupuncture should be avoided?
Since 1989, the World Health Organization (WHO) has developed guidelines on safety in clinical practice, indications and contraindications to acupuncture.
Due to the “regulatory action” of acupuncture, it is rather difficult to determine the definite contraindications for this form of treatment. However, for various reasons, the following situations should be avoided:
- Pregnancy, unless required for other therapeutic purposes and only by Medical Therapists with extensive scientific training and clinical experience.
- Emergency medical procedures and surgeries: Acupuncture is contraindicated in emergencies that need to be treated by medical centers specifically for this type of condition.
Acupuncture should not be used to replace a necessary surgery.
- Malignancies: Acupuncture should not be used to treat malignancies. In particular, the use of the needle at the site of the tumor is prohibited. However, acupuncture can be used with excellent results, as a single therapy or in combination with other treatments to relieve pain or alleviate other symptoms. Also, it can potentially treat the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation as well as to improve quality of life.
- Bleeding Disorders: The use of needles should be avoided in patients with bleeding disorders, thrombosis, and in those who receiving anticoagulant therapy.