The particular locations on the body, or “points,” used in acupuncture correspond to sites that are believed to have effects on particular body systems or body parts. These sites were mapped out over 3,000 years ago in a system of medicine called Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM. When performing an acupuncture treatment, your doctor will place very thin needles into the points that affect the body systems involved with your individual set of symptoms. These points may be very close to the site of concern, such as near your nose in the case of sinus congestion, or far away, such as behind your knee or near your thumb for lower back pain.
Acupuncture is essentially painless, with some experiencing a slight pinch or minor cramping sensation as the needle is inserted, while others feel nothing. The needles are left in place for approximately 20 minutes or so while you remain lying comfortably; some people even fall asleep during their acupuncture treatment. Many patients report a deep sense of relaxation during their treatment, which can continue after the session is over. The answer to the common question of how soon a patient can expect to see beneficial effects is that it varies, but most get some sort of relief within the first few visits. Your overall state of health can have a big impact on how well your treatments work, so it’s important to include acupuncture into a larger program of health maintenance.