Medical Acupuncture (cont.)
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It is believed that the earliest acupuncture instruments were sharp pieces of bone or flint called Bian stones. During the Iron and Bronze ages, metal acupuncture needles began to be developed. Early needles were made from iron, copper, bronze, and even silver and gold.
Modern acupuncture needles are made out of stainless steel and come in various lengths and gauges of width. These acupuncture needles consist of a stainless steel shaft, with a handle made out of copper or steel. Some Japanese needles have a color-coded plastic handle. Unlike standard needles used for intramuscular injections, or for drawing blood, acupuncture needles are solid, not hollow, and have a finely tapered point, as opposed to a beveled cutting-edge point. In fact, acupuncture needles are so thin that an acupuncture needle can actually fit within the hollow of a standard blood-drawing needle.
Acupuncture is essentially painless. Although some people may experience a slight pinch as the needle is inserted, many feel nothing at all. Once inserted, the needles remain in place for approximately 20-30 minutes. Because modern acupuncture needles are disposable and used only once, there is no risk of transmitting infections from one person to another.
Acupuncture has relatively few, if any, side effects. The most common side effect from acupuncture is a feeling of deep relaxation and an increased sense of well-being. As with any puncture, a slight discoloration at the acupuncture site may occasionally occur. This is temporary and not dangerous. One published report documents the safety of acupuncture even when performed on people receiving the anticoagulant warfarin (Coumadin).
Although adverse effects can occur if acupuncture is improperly performed, only 10 cases of internal injuries from acupuncture have been reported in the United States from 1965-1997.
Although some insurance carriers have begun to reimburse for medical acupuncture, most do not. As of December 2007, Medicare still did not cover medical acupuncture. In some states, medical acupuncture is covered by workers' compensation and no-fault automobile insurance. Because of the variability in each policy, contact your own insurance carrier to determine if the company provides coverage for medical acupuncture.
Medical Acupuncture Pictures
Medically reviewed by a Board Certified Family Practice Physician
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/13/2014
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