Non-Needle Acupuncture Therapy
Acupuncture involves the stimulation of anatomical locations on or in the skin by a variety of techniques. There are a variety of approaches to diagnosis and treatment through acupuncture that incorporate medical traditions from China, Japan, Korea, and other countries. The most well-known type of acupuncture stimulation employs penetration of the skin by thin, solid, metallic needles, which are manipulated manually or by electrical stimulation. However, there are variations of acupuncture that do not rely on the use of needles.
Different methods of acupuncture may be used to treat a range of issues, including chronic pain, anxiety, respiratory problems, digestive issues, immune disorders, and poor circulation. Acupuncture treatments influence many of the body's systems and provide alternative treatment options to traditional medical care. Acupuncture may be considered as a preventative or therapeutic form of treatment.
Non-Needle Acupuncture Techniques
Aside from needles, other methods of stimulation are also considered forms of acupuncture. The main difference in these treatments is that the needle is replaced by a different technique to manipulate the acupuncture point. There are several different methods that include the use of heat, herbs, friction, magnets, suction, or simply applying pressure to specific target points.
In this acupuncture technique no instrument is used, just the technique of applying pressure with the hand or a finger, on the acupuncture point. Acupressure may be incorporated into such manipulations as shiatsu massage. This is a non-invasive and gentle form of healing.
Moxibustion is an externally applied treatment that uses a Chinese herb called moxa, commonly referred to as mugwort. The moxa is compressed and rolled into a cigar-shaped herbal stick. The moxa sticks are then lit and held over acupuncture points (on or very near the surface of the skin). The radiant heat produced, has the effect of stimulating the acupuncture point. This method is sometimes used along with acupuncture needles, although it is commonly used as a treatment by itself.
Cupping therapy is a treatment method in which cups are placed on the skin to create suction. A glass cup is placed on the skin and a flammable substance such as alcohol, herbs, or paper is placed in a cup and set on fire. As the fire goes out, the cup is placed upside down on the patient's skin. As the air inside the cup cools, it creates a vacuum. The cup is generally left in place for five to 10 minutes. The vacuum initiates blood flow within the area, so it is often used to improve circulation and promote healing of many different conditions.
Infrared Heat Therapy
Infrared heat therapy treatment uses a heat lamp with a special mineral heating plate to treat different conditions and target specific parts of the body. When activated, this plate emits infrared electromagnetic energy that is absorbed deep into the body. Infrared heat therapy uses invisible waves of light, that produce radiant heat waves that penetrate about 2 to 3 inches under the skin surface. This therapy targets blood vessels, muscles and tissues, resulting in an increased flow of blood and oxygen. The heat also helps to relax stiff muscles and loosen joints.
Gua sha is a healing technique that is sometimes referred to as "coining, spooning, or scraping".The treatment involves using a spoon or other gua sha tool, and repeatedly rubbing or scraping the tool on the skin over a specific or sore area. Through gua sha, the skin surface is scraped to release myofascial tension, and relieve sore or tight muscles. Many people feel that gua sha produces an anti-inflammatory and immune protective effect that last for days following a single treatment.
Traditional Chinese medicine views acupuncture as a technique for balancing the flow of energy or life force within the body. It is also believed that acupuncture points stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue, helping to boost the body's natural ability to prevent pain and increase blood flow. As an important part of traditional Asian medicine, acupuncture is most commonly used to treat chronic pain.