- The practice of inserting needles into the body to reduce pain or induce anesthesia. More broadly, acupuncture is a family of procedures involving the stimulation of anatomical locations on or in the skin by a variety of techniques. There are a number of different approaches to diagnosis and treatment in American acupuncture that incorporate medical traditions from China, Japan, Korea, and other countries. The most thoroughly studied mechanism of stimulation of acupuncture points employs penetration of the skin by thin, solid, metallic needles, which are manipulated manually or by electrical stimulation. In 1997 the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a consensus statement on acupuncture. The statement indicated that "There is sufficient evidence of acupuncture's value to expand its use into conventional medicine...." The full text of the conclusions of the NIH consensus statement on acupuncture is as follows: "Acupuncture as a therapeutic intervention is widely practiced in the United States. There have been many studies of its potential usefulness. However, many of these studies provide equivocal results because of design, sample size, and other factors. The issue is further complicated by inherent difficulties in the use of appropriate controls, such as placebo and sham acupuncture groups." "However, promising results have emerged, for example, efficacy of acupuncture in adult post-operative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting and in postoperative dental pain. There are other situations such as addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma for which acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment or an acceptable alternative or be included in a comprehensive management program. Further research is likely to uncover additional areas where acupuncture interventions will be useful." "Findings from basic research have begun to elucidate the mechanisms of action of acupuncture, including the release of opioids and other peptides in the central nervous system and the periphery and changes in neuroendocrine function. Although much needs to be accomplished, the emergence of plausible mechanisms for the therapeutic effects of acupuncture is encouraging." "The introduction of acupuncture into the choice of treatment modalities readily available to the public is in its early stages. Issues of training, licensure, and reimbursement remain to be clarified. There is sufficient evidence, however, of its potential value to conventional medicine to encourage further studies." "There is sufficient evidence of acupuncture's value to expand its use into conventional medicine and to encourage further studies of its physiology and clinical value."
* * *Puncture with long, fine needles: 1. An ancient Asian system of therapy. 2. More recently, a. anesthesia or analgesia. [L. acus, needle, + puncture]
* * *acu·punc·ture -.pəŋ(k)-chər n an orig. Chinese practice of inserting fine needles through the skin at specific points esp. to cure disease or relieve pain (as in surgery)
* * *n.a complementary therapy in which fine sterile needles are inserted into the skin at specific points on the body. It was developed by Eastern physicians, who recognize pathways and flows of energy within the body called 'chi'. It may work by allowing the body to release its own natural painkillers (endorphin). Acupuncture is used to treat many conditions, particularly chronic pain.
* * *acu·punc·ture (akґu-punk″chər) [acu- + puncture] a practice originally developed in traditional Chinese medicine (see under medicine) in which fine needles are inserted into specific exterior body locations (acupoints) and manipulated for relief of pain, induction of surgical anesthesia, and therapy for a variety of conditions. According to traditional theory, the goal of acupuncture is the prevention and treatment of disease by correcting disturbances in the flow of qi (q.v.); biologically, the effects of acupuncture may result from the release of neurotransmitters such as endorphins and serotonin. Other means of stimulating the acupoints, including lasers, ultrasound, and electricity, may also be used. See also acupressure and moxibustion.
Medical dictionary. 2011.