How Does Acupuncture Work?

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How Does Acupuncture Work?

If you’ve ever wondered how acupuncture works, you’re not alone. This traditional Chinese therapy has been used for centuries to relieve pain, but it can be hard to understand how sticking needles into your skin can provide any relief. Let’s first take a look at the science behind acupuncture and how this alternative therapy might be able to help you. At the end of the article, I will also explain it in layman’s terms as if you were sitting in my clinic.

How Acupuncture Works

Acupuncture is based on the belief that there is an energy, or life force, flowing through our bodies. This life force is known as qi (pronounced “chee”). According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), when qi is flowing freely through our bodies, we’re in good health. However, when there’s a blockage in the flow of qi, it can lead to pain and illness.

Acupuncture involves placing thin needles into specific points on the body. These points are located along what are known as meridians, or energy pathways. It’s believed that stimulating these points with needles can unblock the flow of qi and help to restore balance and health.

If these sentences don’t make sense to you, don’t worry, keep reading – the simple explanation is coming.

Does Acupuncture Work?

The jury is still out on whether or not acupuncture is an effective treatment for pain or other conditions. There has been a large number of studies conducted on acupuncture. Some showing promise and others not demonstrating any significant benefits.

A 2012 systematic review of studies concluded that acupuncture might be effective for treating headaches, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, and osteoarthritis. However, the authors of the review cautioned that these findings are based on a limited number of studies and that more research is needed.

A 2016 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that acupuncture was no more effective than sham (fake) acupuncture at relieving chronic low back pain.

How Acupuncture Works From An Acupuncturist’s View

When I explain it to my patients, it shoulder be in very simple terms that make sense. Acupuncture works in the same way as pressing the “Ctrl” “Alt” and “Del” on your computer. It resets and reboots the body’s blocked energy system. This allows the body’s natural healing mechanisms to effectively do their work on restoring your overall energy levels and wellbeing.


If you’re considering trying acupuncture, I encourage you to do some research and give it a go. While there is some evidence that acupuncture may be helpful for certain conditions, more research is needed to determine its efficacy. Acupuncture may not be right for everyone, and it’s essential to be aware of the potential risks before undergoing treatment.


  1. My first time receiving acupuncture and it is working for me. (Chronic back pain and osteoarthritis in back four visits so far and feeling better have eight more visits to but I am feeling a lot better).

  2. Valeria Lima says:

    I have a cronique shoulder pain in my right arm. I injured myself studying for exams on an iPad (bad posture). The pain has been there on and off for 8 years now. Computer mouse, tablets, cell phones, all these devices get it worse and I had to do modifications in my daily life. I started acupunture a month ago (4 sessions so far, one session per week) but I haven’t seen an improvement in my pain so far. I get really tired the next 2 days with fever like symptoms and a pain in my forearm, wrist and shoulder. I really want it to work and I’m willing to go throught this if I have to, but I’m not sure if it’s working. I read a lot about it helping back pain and other conditions but not that much about shoulder pain. 🙁

    • Qiang Chen says:

      Hi Valeria, There are many patients of mine who have shoulder pain was improved with acupuncture.
      As your pain is on and off and over 8 years, I would suggest a more comprehensive approach to manage it. Please talk to a physiotherapist for strengthening your muscles while acupuncture can relax and reset your muscles and calm the nerves.
      Please discuss with your acupuncturist if you need increase the frequency to more than once a week. The acupuncture effect usually works 3 steps froward and 2 steps back. When it is too far a part between acupuncture sessions, it maybe step back 3 steps.

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