What is Acupuncture?

You might not think it, but if you’re suffering from headaches, anxiety, or even high blood pressure, acupuncture may be able to help you. If you live in Indianapolis, Integrated Health Solutions can be your best one-stop shop for a wide range of combined health protocols that mix state-of-the-art science and diagnostic exams, with ancient Eastern natural therapies like acupuncture.

In fact, the health care team at Integrated Health Solutions utilizes the latest breakthroughs in acupuncture, and can make it a major component in your personalized plan for improved health. So if you’re thinking acupuncture... think Integrated Health Solutions first.

Delivering the Latest Techniques and Science

All of the doctors at Intergrated Health Solutions each have professional training, and are licensed and certified to perform acupuncture correctly and safely. As experts in acupuncture treatment, they are also highly trained in related techniques such as dry needling.

Dry needling, which is a newer technique than the ancient technique of acupuncture, was developed in the 1980s. It is based on ideas from modern Western medicine, but makes use of superfine needles similar to acupuncture needles in techniques that help decrease pain and offer other benefits.

What’s the Difference Between Acupuncture and Dry Needling?

Medical Director Dr. Charbel Harb is certified in both acupuncture and dry needling, which uses fine, sterile needles, much like those used in acupuncture, but in a different way that targets specific points of direct pain.

While traditional acupuncture works to improve energy flow, removing blockages and restoring healthy balance in your body, dry needling is quite different. In some ways, it combines the tools of acupuncture — superfine needles — with the goals of ultra deep tissue healing and rejuvenation. The name “dry needling” is used to show that it is not the same as “wet needling,” or injections of pain medicine via hypodermic needles.

Dry needling gets to the trigger point of pain, deep within the muscle, and is much more directed, effective and deep reaching than most soft tissue treatment therapies.

Dry needling allows Dr. Harb and his team to get directly to the fine muscles that may be causing your pain, buried deep within layers of external muscle. Dry needling is also known as intramuscular stimulation, or IMS, because the needles are inserted into “trigger points” -- areas of tender muscle that are located within larger muscles. When those trigger points are released by the insertion of the needles, normal function is restored and the patient experiences relief from chronic pain.

Another difference between dry needling and acupuncture is the conditions they are used to treat. Acupuncture is used to redirect the flow of energy in a way that relieves stress and pain -- very commonly, back pain. Acupuncture needles are inserted at points along the body’s meridian lines, which represent specific organs.

Dry needling is used to treat a variety of chronic pain ailments, including fibromyalgia, back pain, neck pain, muscle spasms, knee pain and more without the need for surgical procedures or pain medication. Many people have also found dry needling to be beneficial for other internal ailments as well, such as insomnia, stress and digestive problems.

Both dry needling and acupuncture can be very effective as part of an overall treatment plan for physical rehabilitation from an injury.

Can dry needling cause muscle damage? That is a question that comes up sometimes. Dry needling has been found to be a safe and appropriate treatment for patients who don’t have a phobia of needles. It might cause a little soreness or bruising at the insertion site(s), but that is a temporary side effect. Dry needling has been found to speed up the recovery process from injuries, reduce pain and improve range of motion when used in conjunction with movement-based therapy.

Dr. Harb studied directly under one of the world’s most recognized experts on dry needling Dr. Yun-tao Ma. Dr. Ma, a visiting Professor with the Medical Faculty for Orsay University in Paris. Dr. Ma has published ground-breaking books on the subject and has developed a proven, evidence-based Integrative Dry Needling System, which he has presented all over the world to great response. As a certified student of Dr. Ma’s, and having studied directly under him, Dr. Harb is uniquely qualified to integrate this unique therapy into your own, custom-crafted protocol for wellness.

The Science Behind An Ancient Art

Traditional Chinese medicine men have known for over 3,000 years how effective acupuncture treatment can be in improving energy and fighting pain.

These medicine men believe that acupuncture can balance energy and direct flow — known as qi or chi —through your body’s pathways. Despite its long and well-established history, it’s only been embraced in the U.S. fairly recently. By the end of 1970s, the World Health Organization accepted that acupuncture and some related Eastern arts could treat about 40 different ailments.

There are many more published findings that also support the practice of acupuncture. The National Institutes of Health, one of the world’s best centers for scientific research, released a statement in 1997 noting that acupuncture could be used, either alone or as part of an integrated health solution, to treat asthma, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, headaches, and even osteoarthritis.

A more recent study published in 2007 in the American Heart Association’s leading scientific journal Circulation (1) found that acupuncture could significantly lower high blood pressure over about six weeks of treatment.

And a further study, this time out of UCLA and published just last year, found that acupuncture “effectively reduces hypertension” by stimulating brain neurons. Cutting-edge scientific research like this has helped us to interpret how the 3,500-year-old ancient art actually works. We now understand that there are points on our bodies that can stimulate nerves, muscles and tissue. By stimulating these, we can activate our own best, natural painkillers and increase blood flow, without resorting to risky drugs or medical procedures.

So How Does Acupuncture Actually Work?

Acupuncture Acupuncture is a medical technique that is used to treat pain and disorders in a variety of the body’s systems, such as the nervous system, circulatory system and musculoskeletal system, as well as the reproductive, respiratory and digestive systems.

Acupuncture works simply through the insertion of superfine needles in carefully selected areas of the body. We find that the needles, which can range from 6 to 300 depending on the area that is being treated, stimulate skin and muscle nerves. The placement of the needles causes your body to respond naturally by releasing hormones or endorphins and stimulating anti-inflammatory responses and the regeneration of fresh tissue. These natural responses help balance your body’s chemicals and normalize physiological activities of the nervous, endocrine, immune and cardiovascular systems.

The balancing and normalization process achieved through acupuncture promotes the body’s natural, self-healing ability to recover from an injury or ailment and repair itself. While acupuncture does not treat any particular pathological symptom, it does speed up the self-healing process.

Because acupuncture treatment uses your body’s own best and all-natural systems, it does not interact with medication and can be used alone or in conjunction with other treatments, such as chiropractic care.

Acupuncture effectively treats pain by loosening adhesions and scar tissue. It can also help improve mobility and joint motion. Muscles, tendons or tissues that have hardened and shortened are difficult to move and stretch, making it tough to move your limbs and body parts the way you used to move them. Acupuncture can relax these muscles, tendons and tissues so that your range of motion in these areas is increased and physical movements are fluid and natural, without pain.

One modern acupuncture technique that is growing in popularity is biomedical acupuncture. A combination of traditional Eastern techniques and adapted Western mechanisms, biomedical acupuncture is based on the best clinical and laboratory studies using the latest neurochemistry methods and functional MRI. Biomedical acupuncture works by activating the body’s built-in survival mechanisms, which allows the body to make the most out of its ability to treat and protect itself.

What Happens in Acupuncture?

Acupuncture needles are ultra thin and flexible. They are designed to slide easily into the body without causing pain. Most of our patients find that they experience little or no discomfort during the acupuncture session. Some patients find acupuncture energizing, while others feel relaxed and calm.

Needles and tools used in an acupuncture session are sterile, nontoxic and designed for single use. Needles and tools are disposed of after each patient.

Negative side effects are extremely rare, and acupuncture is often used to alleviate the negative side effects of conventional treatment, such as medication. Acupuncture is also commonly used alongside medication or other conventional treatment, including treating post-operative discomfort such as nausea and vomiting, to improve a patient’s overall quality of life. If you are experiencing neck pain, headaches, sciatica, or pain from a sports injury acupuncture is the right choice for you!

Who Can Benefit From Acupuncture in Indianapolis?

Because acupuncture can be used to treat a wide variety of conditions and used alone or by those already following a medical or medication regimen, nearly everyone who lives in the Indianapolis area can benefit from acupuncture.

What Can Acupuncture Treat?

Acupuncture can be used to treat the following common conditions:

Don’t Just Think Acupuncture... Think Integrated Health Solutions

Dr. Charbel and his team can create a unique combination of modalities, mixing acupuncture, massage and dry needling to relieve pain and improve overall wellness, based around your individual needs.

The care you and your loved ones will receive is more than just one single solution: you’ll receive a complete integrated protocol for your best health.

For more information about our acupuncture services, contact Dr. Charbel Harb in Indianapolis and surrounding areas at 317.449.2020 .

About Integrated Health Solutions

Dr. Charbel Harb is a licensed chiropractic physician and the Medical Director of Integrated Health Solutions. Our core belief is that each patient who walks through the doors is a person, not just a medical record or chart. Our greatest pleasure is bringing joy to our patients and helping them to fully embrace life, allowing them to enjoy each day: active, healthy and pain free.