Acupuncture is an old treatment method, practised in China for thousands of years. It arrived in the West in the 17th century with Jesuit missionaries who had been working in China.
Nowadays Western medicine justifies the effect of acupuncture with Western medical concepts.
In 1975, the surgeon general stated that acupuncture is included in physical treatment methods.
The mechanism of action of acupuncture
In Western countries, the mechanism of action of acupuncture is largely explained through pain alleviation. It is based on the idea of acupuncture acting through the nervous system. It is used to activate receptors and/or sensing strands.
The central nervous system contains chemical neurotransmitters i.e. endorphins. Their release is activated by different stimuli, e.g. acupuncture. A strong peripheral stimulus blocks the pain message’s passage to the brain. Acupuncture stimulates the CGPR hormone which dilates the blood vessels and acts anti-inflammatorily. Acupuncture also releases norepinephrine, serotonin and encephalin, creating a comfortable, soft, light and painless feeling.
Long-term stimulation of muscle fibres (ca. 20 min) creates decreased activity in the nervous system. Acupuncture increases blood circulation in tissues, thus relaxing the muscles.
Treatment given by an authorised healthcare professional e.g. a physiotherapist is monitored by The National Authority for Medicolegal Affairs (TEO). Treatment by a physiotherapist is secured with patient non-life insurance.
Physiotherapists use acupuncture to treat e.g. musculoskeletal problems.
Muscle-based pain responds well to needle treatments, according to empirical evidence. Acupuncture can be used as an independent treatment or it can be combined with other physiotherapy. Treatment results last longer when body use can be improved as a result of pain reduction, exercise can be increased and work ergonomics can be controlled.
Nowadays, another treatment in use is so-called muscle trigger needling where a tense muscle area is relaxed by sticking a needle directly into the tense muscle fibres.
Research evidence has brought acupuncture into the osteoarthritis Käypä hoito (Acceptable treatment) recommendation.
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