Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that has been practised for more than 2,000 years. It is based on the belief that the body has a number of channels along which energy, or qi, flows. These energy channels are called meridians, and some are connected to vital organs in the body. Acupuncture is used to treat many conditions, including pain, digestive problems and respiratory issues.Acupuncture Needles
During an acupuncture treatment, fine needles are inserted into acupoints along the meridians to try to clear any blockages that may be present, enabling qi to flow freely. Acupuncture needles come in a range of lengths and thicknesses. Lengths are commonly in the 30 to 70 millimetre range—longer needles are used in fleshier parts of the body—while thickness can range from about 0.14 to 0.30 millimetres, with the finer needles used on sensitive areas such as the face.Cupping
Sometimes a Chinese medicine practitioner will use other treatment methods in conjunction with acupuncture. One of these is cupping, in which special cups are placed on the skin to create suction. It can be used to increase blood flow or treat pain or inflammation. Acupuncture cupping sets for home use contain a range of cup sizes as well as a suction pump.Pen Acupuncture
An electronic method of administering acupuncture is with an acupuncture pen. These instruments locate acupoints and stimulate them via a metal tip at the end of the device. However, unlike acupuncture needles, the pen tip does not pierce the skin.Other Acupuncture Methods
There are several other ways that acupoints can be stimulated to clear blockages in meridians. These include moxa sticks, which are placed on or held just above the skin, acupressure using finger pressure, and acupressure yoga mats and pillows, which are covered in discs that massage the acupoints.