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7 Acupuncture Techniques

Discover the 7 most popular Acupuncture Techniques and how they can help patients achieve optimal health.

By Ericka Pingol on Jun 16, 2024.

Fact Checked by RJ Gumban.

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7 Acupuncture Techniques

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a pivotal component of traditional Chinese medicine. It involves the insertion of very thin needles through the patient's skin at strategic points on the body. This practice is believed to balance the flow of energy or life force—known as qi or chi (pronounced "CHEE")—thought to flow through pathways (meridians) in the body.

Traditional Chinese acupuncture is based on the belief that when this energy flow is disrupted or blocked, it can result in illness and pain. Acupuncturists aim to restore the balance of energy flow and alleviate symptoms by inserting needles into specific points along these meridians.

This alternative medicine technique, primarily utilized for pain management, aims to stimulate nerves, muscles, and connective tissue. Some acupuncture treatments also incorporate electrical stimulation to enhance the therapeutic effects. By targeting specific acupuncture points, the practice seeks to reduce chronic pain and improve overall wellness by promoting the body's natural healing processes.

Benefits of acupuncture

Acupuncture therapy can deliver numerous health benefits, including the following:

  • Pain relief: Acupuncture can relieve various types of chronic pain, such as back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis. It is believed to stimulate the release of natural opioids (pain-relieving chemicals) in the body.
  • Stress and anxiety reduction: Acupuncture treatment has been found to significantly reduce feelings of stress and anxiety by promoting relaxation and calming the nervous system.
  • Improved sleep: Many individuals report better quality sleep after receiving acupuncture treatment. It can help regulate the body's natural sleep patterns and alleviate insomnia.
  • Enhanced immune function: Acupuncture has been shown to boost the immune system, making individuals more resilient against illnesses and infections.
  • Digestive health improvement: This treatment can improve digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, and gastrointestinal discomfort by promoting better digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • Management of chronic conditions: Acupuncture has been used as a complementary therapy for various chronic conditions, including asthma, allergies, and migraine headaches.

7 Acupuncture Techniques

Acupuncture works by stimulating specific points in the body known as acupuncture points. These points are located along energy pathways, also called meridians, through which qi (life force) flows.

There are several methods used in acupuncture therapy, including:

Needle acupuncture

This is the most common and traditional method of acupuncture, where thin needles are inserted into the skin at specific acupuncture points. The needles are then manipulated by hand or with electrical stimulation to stimulate the flow of qi.

Cupping therapy

Cupping therapy involves placing heated glass cups on the skin to create suction, which helps to release tension and promote blood flow in the targeted area. It can help with pain relief, detoxification, and relaxation.

Herbal acupuncture

This method combines acupuncture with herbal medicine by inserting small pellets or seeds of herbs into the acupuncture points. This allows for sustained stimulation of the acupuncture points and can enhance the effectiveness of treatment.


Moxibustion is a technique in which dried mugwort or moxa, a small spongy herb, is burned near an acupuncture point to stimulate qi flow. It is often used for pain relief and to boost the immune system.


Electroacupuncture is a variation of traditional needle acupuncture where a small electric current is passed between pairs of acupuncture needles. This method is believed to be particularly effective for treating pain and can stimulate tissues deeper than needle acupuncture alone.

Auricular acupuncture

Auricular acupuncture focuses on the ear, which is considered a microsystem reflecting the entire body. Small needles are inserted into specific points in the ear to target various health conditions. It is often used for addiction, mood disorders, and pain management.


Unlike acupuncture, which uses needles, acupressure involves applying pressure to specific points on the body using the fingers or other devices. It can be performed by the individuals themselves or by a practitioner. Acupressure is often used to relieve pain, reduce stress, and enhance overall well-being.

What to expect during an acupuncture session

Different practitioners may take different approaches to acupuncture, but an acupuncture session generally begins with an initial consultation. During this consultation, the practitioner discusses the patient's medical history and current symptoms, which allows the practitioner to develop a specific treatment plan tailored to the individual's needs.

During the session, the practitioner will gently insert thin needles into the skin at various acupuncture points. These needles are typically left in place for 10-20 minutes, when the patient may experience a tingling or numb sensation. Some practitioners may also use electrical stimulation to enhance the effects of the treatment.

After the needles are removed, patients are typically advised to rest and relax, as well as stay hydrated and avoid strenuous activities for at least a few hours after the session. Multiple sessions may be recommended to achieve optimal results depending on the severity of the condition being treated.

Possible side effects and risks

Like any medical treatment, acupuncture carries potential side effects and risks. However, with a trained and certified practitioner, these risks are minimized. Some common side effects include minor bruising or bleeding at the needle site, temporary pain or discomfort during needle insertion, and rare cases of infections or nerve damage. In addition, some people may experience temporary dizziness or fatigue after a session.

Moreover, patients with bleeding disorders or those taking blood thinners should inform their acupuncturist before treatment to avoid excessive bleeding. Pregnant women should also consult with their doctor and acupuncturist before undergoing acupuncture, as certain points on the body are known to induce labor.

It's important for patients to communicate any concerns or discomfort during a session to their practitioner. Acupuncture should not be painful, and any discomfort should be minimal.

Why use Carepatron as your acupuncture practice management software?

Our practice management software, Carepatron, is designed specifically for acupuncture clinics. It offers a range of features that can help streamline your daily operations and improve patient care.

With Carepatron, you can easily store and access all of your patients' medical information in one secure location. You can also create and manage appointment schedules, track patient progress and outcomes, and securely communicate with patients through our messaging system.

Our software also includes a built-in billing system that allows you to easily generate invoices and process payments. This can help reduce administrative tasks and improve your practice's efficiency.

Additionally, Carepatron offers customizable templates for treatment plans, SOAP notes, and other important clinical documents. This can save you time and ensure consistency in your documentation.

Many acupuncture clinics have seen significant improvements in operations and patient care after implementing Carepatron as their practice management software. Join them and experience the benefits for yourself.

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Commonly asked questions

How does acupuncture influence the central nervous system?

Acupuncture is believed to stimulate the central nervous system—the brain and spinal cord—by placing acupuncture needles at specific points in the body. This stimulation can release chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain, which may either promote a sense of well-being or alter the way pain is perceived and experienced.

Are acupuncture needles considered medical devices?

Yes, acupuncture needles are classified as medical devices by health regulatory authorities in many countries, including the United States. They must meet stringent sterility and manufacturing standards to ensure safety and efficacy for medical use.

How does the body regulate the effects of acupuncture?

The body's response to acupuncture is complex and involves multiple biological mechanisms. It is believed that acupuncture may regulate the flow of qi, or vital energy, along meridian pathways. Scientifically, it is thought to regulate the body's nervous and endocrine systems, which affects inflammation, pain modulation, and the healing process.

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