Acupuncture literally means to puncture with a needle.
However, the application of needles is often used in combination with moxibustion—the burning on or over the skin of selected herbs—and may also involve the application of other kinds of stimulation to certain points.
In this publication the term “acupuncture” is used in its broad sense to include traditional body needling, moxibustion, electric acupuncture , laser acupuncture, microsystem acupuncture such as ear (auricular), face, hand and scalp acupuncture, and acupressure (the application of pressure at selected sites).
The effectiveness of acupuncture analgesia has already been established in controlled clinical studies. As mentioned previously, acupuncture analgesia works better than a placebo for most kinds of pain, and its effective rate in the treatment of chronic pain is comparable with that of morphine. In addition, numerous laboratory studies have provided further evidence of the efficacy of acupuncture’s analgesic action as well as an explanation of the mechanism involved.
In fact, the excellent analgesic effects of acupuncture have stimulated research on pain. Because of the side-effects of long-term drug therapy for pain and the risks of dependence, acupuncture analgesia can be regarded as the method of choice for treating many chronically painful conditions.
The analgesic effect of acupuncture has also been reported for the relief of eye pain due to subconjunctival injection, local pain after extubation in children, and pain in thromboangiitis obliterans.