So… How Does Acupuncture Really Work?
I get this question just as much as “What is the difference between Athletic Therapy and Physiotherapy?” (Refer to our blog ‘What is Athletic Therapy’ couple of weeks back for the answer!). http://applecreeksportsmedicine.com/what-is-an-athletic-therapist/
So, how does acupuncture really work?
Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles into a neuro-reactive site (any area that can generate neural sensory afferent input) to improve the nervous system and/or of its associated effectors such as the endocrine, exocrine and immune systems.
The needle insertion induces an array of reflex responses at several levels.
The 3 reflexes are:
1. Local reflexes – decreases pain receptors
2. Spinal reflexes – somatic sensory and/or motor neuromodulation or autonomic and visceral neuromodulation
3. Supraspinal reflexes – triggered by reaching the central nervous system above the spinal cord
The 4 categories of inputs are:
1. Peripheral Segmental (local) inputs – stimulation of peripheral nerve trunks
2. Spinal segmental (axial) inputs – indirect stimulation of spinal nerves
3. Extra segmental (Systemic Regulatory) inputs – effects predominantly supra spinal neuro-humoral, autonomic, endocrine, or immune responses
4. Auricular inputs – ear points to effect supra spinal neuromodulatory responses
The way I see it is your nervous system tells your body what it is feeling, it tells your muscles whether to contract or relax, allows you to feel if something is sharp or dull and most importantly it gives you your reflexes! Your nervous system does this via the connection it has from your brain to your muscles. When an injury occurs, there is some form of interruption with that flow of communication between your brain and the injured region. Acupuncture not only decreases the amount of pain receptors you have lying around the injured tissues (60% of pain comes from your brain!) but it also tries to replenish that communication so that you can function without pain and restore proper mechanics.