What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a form of ancient Chinese medicine in which fine, sterile needles are applied to specific areas of the body, or acupoints, to stimulate energy flow (known as “chi”). The needles are usually left in place for a few minutes, which causes virtually no pain when done by a skilled acupuncturist.
During a treatment, energy is believed to circulate throughout the body along specific pathways called meridians. When energy is flowing freely through the meridians, it stimulates the immune system, which is thought to promote healing and balance. In contrast, pain or illness may occur when the flow of energy is disturbed or off balance. A goal of acupuncture is to restore balance and healthy energy flow through the body to control pain and other symptoms.
While it’s not fully understood how acupuncture works, research suggests that the therapy can benefit cancer patients. It’s been shown that acupuncture reduces nausea and vomiting after surgery and chemotherapy. In addition, research has shown that it can relieve pain, possibly by triggering the body’s pain-killing chemicals and by inducing the release of chemicals that regulate blood pressure and flow.
Experienced care team
Our acupuncturists are experienced licensed practitioners who can alleviate treatment-related side effects, including nausea, vomiting and pain, and other common symptoms, such as stress and insomnia. Your acupuncturist will be in regular communication with other members of your care team to evaluate your progress as you receive treatments.
Personalized treatment approach
Acupuncture is one of several integrative oncology services we offer to help patients manage the symptoms and side effects of cancer and cancer treatment. Your care team will help you determine if acupuncture is the right treatment option for you.
Managing side effects
Acupuncture is done to alleviate side effects, and you should not expect side effects from the therapy itself. Complications, such as infection, can result if a clinician does not perform a treatment properly or if the needles used are not sterilized adequately. Relatively few complications have been reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates acupuncture needles used by licensed practitioners.