girl on beach

Women’s Health Library

Our Health Library information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist our patients to learn more about their health. Our providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.

Acupuncture

Treatment Overview

Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that has been practiced for centuries. It's based on the theory that energy, called chi (say "chee"), flows through and around your body along pathways called meridians.

Acupuncturists believe that illness occurs when something blocks or unbalances your chi. Acupuncture is a way to unblock or influence chi and help it flow back into balance.

Acupuncture is done by putting very thin needles into your skin at certain points on your body. This is done to influence the energy flow. Sometimes heat, pressure, or mild electrical current is used along with needles.

Why It Is Used

Some people use acupuncture to relieve pain, such as low back pain, or to manage chronic pain from osteoarthritis, headaches, or neck problems. There is some evidence that acupuncture may help to treat pain. But in most cases the studies have been too small to clearly show a benefit.

Risks

In general, acupuncture is safe when done by a certified provider. A state license ensures that the provider has a certain level of training and follows certain guidelines. But there are still a few states where acupuncture is not licensed.

In very rare cases, problems may occur after acupuncture. You could get an infection, especially if the needles aren't sterile. But licensed providers throw away their needles after one use. Make sure your provider uses a new pack of sterile needles every time.

Talk with your doctor if you have other questions about the safety of acupuncture. Always tell your doctor if you are using a treatment like acupuncture.

Credits

Current as of: March 17, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Kathleen M. Fairfield MD, MPH, DrPH - Internal Medicine

News & Events

Telehealth & COVID-19

Telehealth Visits are available. Request by calling (650) 239-5303 or  click “Request Appointment” above. We have a secure HIPAA compliant platform that allows me discuss your health matters privately. If you need an in person visit, please know we are using CDC guidelines of distancing patients and disinfecting. Masks are mandatory for all staff and patients. Dr Serrato does not see COVID patients here nor those with any respiratory symptoms. Your safety is of the utmost concern to me.… Continue Reading