What is acupuncture and acupressure?

Treatment that can reduce pain
When you are treated with acupuncture, thin and sterile needles are used on certain areas of the body. Sometimes these areas are also stimulated with low-powered electricity from the needles. Acupressure means that the therapist presses his/her fingers against these areas in order to treat them. Which areas you choose to treat depends on where it hurts. The treatment releases the body’s own pain killers, so called endorphins, which reduce the pain.

Ancient methods that have gained new popularity
Acupuncture and acupressure have been used for more than 4000 years. The oldest acupuncture needles found were made of stone and bones. Acupuncture and acupressure originate in traditional Chinese medicine and the idea that everything in universe has two opposites, yin and yang. A healthy body is considered to be a sign of harmony between these two sides. Qi is another important conception which stands for the energy in all living creatures. Everything that happens in the body happens in consequence of qi.

Acupuncture gained a lot of attention in Western medicine at the beginning of the seventies. An American journalist had an appendix operation and was treated with acupuncture as a pain killer. Later scientists were able to prove that there is a neurophysical explanation to the effect of acupuncture, which was accepted by Western medicine and medical service. After that acupuncture and acupressure started to be used more generally in Sweden as well as in other parts of the world.

Different ways to explain the effects
The effects of acupuncture and acupressure are explained differently by different practicians. In traditional Chinese medicine there is one way to explain the effects and in Western medicine there is another. Here we start off by explaining the acupuncture in the Western world and acupressure that has scientifically proved effects and is accepted by the Swedish medical service. In the Swedish public medical service patients can be treated for a limited amount of problems that will be mentioned later in this text. Practicians that work outside the public medical system also offer acupuncture and acupressure for other problems, but the effect of these treatments has not yet been scientifically proved.

Who can offer acupuncture treatments?
In Swedish public medical service everyone that is (!) fully trained and has the taken the appropriate courses can give western acupuncture treatments. This includes for instance physicians, dentists, chiropractors, naprapaths, nurses, midwives and physiotherapists. To be treated with acupuncture by nurses, midwives and physiotherapists, you usually need a letter of referral from a doctor.

Therapists that have not been fully trained by the public medical service are also allowed to offer acupuncture treatments if they follow the laws for enterprises that offer medical care. These therapists often have a more traditional Chinese approach to acupuncture and offer acupuncture treatments to more problems than the public medical service.

According to the laws for enterprises that offer medical care, therapists that have not been trained within the public medical service are not allowed to treat children younger than eight years of age and pregnant women. This also applies to patients that suffer from diabetes, epilepsy, cancer or infectious diseases dangerous to society.

The Swedish public health service does not supervise the therapists that work outside the public medical service and the training of these therapists can vary both in length and quality.

There is a lot of research about acupuncture
When acupuncture became well-known in the Western world many people were astonished by the fact that surgeons can operate with acupuncture as sole pain killer. A lot of research on acupuncture has been done and today there are many studies that show that acupuncture can be an efficient method to reduce various kinds of pain. This applies to headache or migraine, tennis elbow or post operation pains for instance. Acupuncture has been also proved to reduce indisposition.

Acupuncture can be used, for example, if you have pain in neck, shoulders, back, muscles and joints.

www.akupunkturforbundet.nuClick the link above for more info (in swedish only)!