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This short research paper seeks to discuss acupuncture in an examinative way. The paper seeks to briefly examine the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of neck, back and joint pains.
Modern medicine has been of late getting support and input from many varied sources all the world over. The advent of the information age has seen the America people begin to suffer pain in some parts of the body that defy traditional forms of medication. People especially those whose work involve continuous sitting, are increasingly complaining of pains in the neck, back and in the joints. This situation is complicated by the fact that most people find drugs unsuitable for them as most drugs have adverse side effects. Thus many people turn to therapy to relieve the pains and physical discomforts. One of the emerging forms of therapeutic treatment is acupuncture (Macoia 245).
Acupuncture, Chinese in origin, is a form of therapeutic treatment that utilizes traditional Chinese methods of treatment. It involves the insertion and manipulation of needles into the body at particular points to relieve pain (Barnes 126).
Historical background and perspective
Medical historians have asserted that acupuncture sprang into practice during the Stone Age period in China. It's said by historians that acupuncture was discovered in response to the deplorable conditions soldiers suffered in war. The wounds incurred by soldiers would get worse and worse, and many a soldier would die. This was very disheartening especially to fellow soldiers, and many young men would not voluntarily enter the army.
In its infancy, the needles used were quite primitive, with bone and stone being used to make the needles. Later, bone and stone needles wee replaced with metal needles. Historical prove points out that acupuncture was in use in all parts of Eurasia, from and during the Stone Age. Christian missionaries to China from Portugal were the first to document and report on acupuncture to the western world, especially Europe. This was in about 1560. Acupuncture in the orient, was at this time mostly for the serfs and other low class people like the poor and the unlearned.
Literature for the practice on acupuncture was first written in Europe in the 1680s. This was by a Dutch Doctor Willem ten Rhijne. Rhijne had studied acupuncture in Japan for two years before he published his findings on acupuncture (Macoia 245). For a time, the Chinese government banned the teaching of acupuncture and also its administration. This was in 1882, and the reason given was that acupuncture was for the low class, and not for the nobility and the learned. However, as most practice do when they face government disapproval, the practice of acupuncture only got more followers.
Acupunctures' entry into the American line of therapy was incidental, and can be traced to President Nixon's China visit of 1973. At the time of the president's visit, one of the members of the press had to undergo an emergency surgery to remove his diseased appendix. The reporter in question was then the New York Times White House correspondent and political reporter, James Reston. It is reported that he experienced immerse pain relief after acupuncture was administered to him. Reston's experience with acupuncture made him to actively begin a publicity campaign for acupuncture. The publicity bore results with the IRS or the internal revenue service legalizing acupuncture as a medical practice, or more correctly as an alternative to conventional medicine. This was in 1973 and since then, acupuncture has been gaining more and more followers.
Medical ailments treatable through Acupuncture
The most common ailment that medical practitioners have agreed on that can be treated by acupuncture therapy is pain in the muscles and the human skeletal frame. Thus all ailments that are caused by stress on the human muscles and skeleton can be effectively relieved through acupuncture.
Conventional medicine has in practice been treating headaches with painkillers such as aspirin and related pain relieving agents such as niacin. This conventional method relies on the dilation of the blood vessels that supply and remove blood, and other fluids from the brain. Acupuncture relies on identifying the sensitive points of the body and manipulating them to ease the pain of the body (Barnes 126). This brings us into the next point in this paper, which is the examination of the acupuncture contact spots and meridians. The listing of the said points is crucial to the understanding of the topic under discussion.
Acupuncture points and meridians
Acupuncture points are the entry channels the acupuncturist uses to access the body and therapeutically manipulate the body to ease pain and heal ailments. The points are used by the surgeons trained in acupuncture to get into the blood system; especially the blood flow system. The practice of acupuncture has identified a total of 12 points and meridians. These are; the lungs, the spleen, the gallbladder, the pericardium, the large intestine, the small intestine and the liver. The other meridians include the sinew channel, the divergents and the luo vessels. All these internal organs are the points of contact in the body's blood flow and are contacted through needling the body at specific points like the thumbs, and other fingers of the hand.
The procedure in acupunctural practice
For the purpose of understanding how acupuncture is used to relieve pain in the neck, back and joints, it is appropriate to discuss the procedure that is followed in the administration of acupuncture. This is because in a paper like this, such a procedure warrants attention. The examination of the procedure lends credence to the paper.
Acupuncture needles the body using disposable and hollow, less stainless steel needles, that have been sterilized through autoclaving and immersing in ethylene oxide. These needles are made specifically for acupuncture and are far smaller than the conventional hypodermic needles. The small size ids in the reduction of pain. To stiffen the needles for a firmer surgeons hold, the upper part is covered with plastic or bronze. The actual size of the needle and the depth of insertion are dependent on the acupuncture style employed.
The actual acupuncture involves the heating of the surgeon's needle or the acupuncture needle (Cheng 87). The heating comes after the needle has been inserted in the body at the desired acupuncture point. A mixture of herbs is then placed at the other end of the needle. The combination of the heat from the needle's heated end and the burning herbs filters into the body and brings the desired healing or effect. Sometimes, other acupuncturist's supplement acupuncture with moxibustion. Moxibustion is closely related to acupuncture but has some telling difference (Cheng 87). Moxibustion is or involves the burning of a combination of herbs from a particular species. The species that contribute these herbs is the mugwort species. However, this process should not be confused with acupuncture.
Treating neck, back and joint pains
One would wonder why the said body parts have been selected for treatment and not the other body parts. It's quite in treating to note that the said parts of the body are more susceptible to injury than other parts of the body. In today's world and working culture, they are the most exposed to injury and prone to pain because of our work, play and lifestyle cultures. In addition, when they get hurt, medical treatment is quite expensive and it the preserve of the rich. Medical treatment mostly involves surgery and this is feared by most people because it means incapacitation for long periods of time.
Neck pains mostly afflict people like computer software engineers who have to bend for long periods of time over their computers. Also affected are writers who are always at their computer consoles doing their work. Neck pains are not respecter of professions as doctors and the medical fraternity is not spared this pain. This is because the improvements in technology especially hospital furniture technology, has not eliminated the need to bend the neck in performing medical duties. Even the ordinary student, if he or she is not careful to manage their reading angle well, will inevitably suffer from neck pains.
Back pain also afflicts a significant number of people in our American population. First, our farmers who contribute to the feeding of this great nation are some of the worst casualties. This is because they spent considerable time with their back under strain. This is especially so for the combine harvester and tractor drivers who spend hundreds of hours at the wheels, of their machines in bad body positions.
Also prone to back pain are the politicians that spend considerable time standing. Such periods of standing long, are occasioned by the campaign period that are quite taxing to the human body. Standing for long periods of time tires the back and not the legs as many would want to believe. This then means that many politicians, that is, senators and representatives, both at the federal and state levels are prone to body back pains.
Teachers are another group that is likely to experience back pains. This is due to the fact that they stand for long periods in class considering that American teachers work hard and for long hours. Also in this category are police officers who sometimes have to stand for long hours, especially those in the traffic department. Sitting down for long periods of time can also predispose one to back pain. This means that Judges are also not spared of this ailment. The rest of the legal fraternity is not spared this malady due to the nature of their work.
Joint pains are not uncommon in our American society. This is especially so in the sports and athletics industry. Cases of player being unable to play due to joint pains are just too many to ignore. The old also get joint pains as they grow older .This is because they are afflicted by ailments such as arthritis that mean unbearable pain in the joints. To revisit sports, many players have been laid off some of the greatest teams in peak seasons because of knee injuries and pains.
The joints are some of the body's most sensitive parts and inevitably some of the most painful. Even ordinary people can have joint pains through injury, or through contracting other diseases that spell doom for the joints. The paper has gone to extensive lengths just to lay the case for the existence of the pains that acupuncture seeks to cure. This is to show that a majority of the American population suffers from one or more of these pains. The next sections of the study will show the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of neck, back and joint pains.
The effectiveness of acupuncture
The case having been laid that a great majority of the population suffer some neck, back or joint pain, the paper at this juncture will examine why acupuncture is effective for the treatment of the said ailments. The paper will show why many are turning to this method that has received its fare share of public criticism.
Acupuncture is very effective because it does not puncture the body as in traditional or conventional medicine. This is to mean that the body is not opened up in surgery. This is quite appropriate to the people with neck, back and joint pains. Opening the body in surgery is quite disadvantageous as it can lead to the infection of the body with secondary infections. Thus many clients or patients for this matter would prefer acupuncture to surgery as they would not want to risk running a secondary infection.
Acupuncture is also very effective because it does not employ the use of drugs. Many people have run out of favour with drugs in the treatment of diseases because many drugs have adverse side effects. Many people are familiar with the adverse effects of drugs in cancer. Chemotherapy, one of the ways of treating the scourge of cancer, has grotesque side effects; with the patient hair disappearing and the patient going completely bald. Of course cancer treatment drugs present an extreme side in the case
against drugs, but a valid point exists. Acupuunture which use no drugs promises better health to the patients with neck, back and joint pains.
Most of the people who suffer pain in the neck, back and the joints, are people who cannot afford prolonged hospital stays or bed rests as is the norm in the case of surgery. This is because they are the nations' working class that grind and turn all the wheels of production. Acupunture comes in handy because it is mostly a brief period with the acupuncturist and a prolonged hospital stay. This makes it attractive to those who cannot afford to take a break from their work. It's thus effective because it does not threaten the careers of the patients who find that they have pain in the said areas and have to seek treatment. Thus judges, magistrates and many other work loving Americans need not leave their work stations for long seeking treatment (Zheng 97).
Acupuncture is also quite effective because compared to conventional medical coasts, it quite cheap. It does not take a genius to figure that that the cost of a surgery to remove say back pain, is much more expensive than the acupuncture sessions to relieve the same pain. Even with insurance, a typical surgery is very expensive and can deplete the fortunes of a man or a woman. Not to forget that, there is quite a good number of Americans who lack insurance. This makes acupuncture quite efficient in meeting the needs of these poor and uninsured people. This is because it is cheap as compared to the more conventional medicine.
Acupuncture is also the most effective treatment to people like film stars and movie actors, who, because of image cannot bear to have scars on their body. Acupunture which leaves no scars is the way for them as it takes care of their careers (Deadman and Baker 321). Conventional medicine has the undesirable effect of leaving scars on the patient's body however minute. Acupunture thus is more effective in the long run when some professions are considered.
The body parts in the discussion are very delicate and deserve utmost care in treatment. For example, the back is quite sensitive as it houses the spinal cord which is one of the singly delicate and almost untreatable parts of the body. The joints are also quite sensitive as they house synoptic fluids that aid in movement and locomotion. The neck's sensitivity cannot be gainsaid. The sensitivity of the said body parts means that they deserve utmost care in their handling. Any form of trying to open them is harmful to the body. Traditional or conventional medicine opts to open these parts in surgery when drugs fail (Zheng 97).
This can be detrimental to the health of the patient. The media does not lack a story every now and then of a patients back that the surgeons messed up or destroyed trying to relieve pain. This, although grim news, is the reality that befall many innocent patients when they seek relieve for their painful backs. The blame cannot be passed around because this is one of the risks of operating (Deadman and Baker 321). But since now acupuncture is available, it is effective in handling this problem.
There are many more reasons why acupuncture is quite effective in treating back, neck and joint pains. All of them cannot be discussed or examined in this short research paper. It is also good to note that acupuncture is not at war with conventional medicine. Rather it supports or complements conventional medicine in a unique and quite novel but effective way. The next part of the research paper will examine some of the issues that have been raised against acupuncture and examine them to verify whether the claims hold waters or not.
Issues on Acupuncture
Every intellectual work worth its salt and a paper it's written on must always examine some of the salient issues raised against it. Detractors say that acupuncture is not based on evidence that can be empirically determined. While this may look convincing, it is erroneous. This is because there are branches of conventional medicine that cannot be empirically determined like psychiatry (Singh and Ernest 314).
It's also said that the practitioners of acupuncture have very little training. While this is true to some extent, it does not mean that the practice of acupuncture is compromised. Acupunturists by nature don't need mastery of biology and chemist. All what an acupuncturist needs is a mastery of the body's pain centres and the nervous system. It's also said that sometimes the acupuncture needle can be inserted wrongly. This then is a case of malpractice and not the ineffectiveness of acupuncture. There are also regulating bodies like NCCAOM that require acupuncture specialists to make referrals to other health professionals when they encounter problems and difficult cases (Singh and Ernest 314).
The research paper has traced the long history of acupuncture from the historical times of Stone Age. The research paper has also shown that the practice of acupuncture began in ancient China. It has traced the journey the practice has undergone until an incident in 1973 triggered a huge publicity for it in the American press. This was the publicity that got the attention of IRS, and IRS began to issue licences for practicing acupuncture in the US in 1973.
The paper has laid the case why the practice of acupuncture is needed in the Country. The paper has conclusively shown that a large population of the American workforce and the general public is vulnerable to neck, back and joint pains. Identifying vulnerable groups, the discussion has examined why they said groups are vulnerable to these pains.
The paper has shown that acupuncture is quite effective in the treatment of neck, back and joint pains. The reasons propounded range from aesthetic considerations to medical benefits, not to forget career considerations. However it should be noted that acupuncture is considerably new and it cannot be imposed on the public. This is because whatever is imposed on the public is lost or rejected. Acupuncture is too good to be rejected. The way forward is to increase the competencies of all the acupuncture practitioners, and give this form of alternative medicine the shot it needs to grow and be used to treat our backs and other ailing body parts in our land, America.