Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM):
A group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered an integral part of conventional medicine. Complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine, and alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine. Some health care providers practice both CAM and conventional medicine.
A whole medical system practiced by holders of M.D. (medical doctor) or D.O. (doctor of osteopathy) degrees and by their allied health professionals, such as physical therapists, psychologists, and registered nurses. Other terms for conventional medicine include allopathy; Western, mainstream, and orthodox medicine; and biomedicine.
A complex chronic condition having multiple symptoms, including muscle pain, fatigue, and tenderness in precise, localized areas, particularly in the neck, spine, shoulders, and hips. People with this syndrome may also experience sleep disturbances, morning stiffness, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and other symptoms.
A traditional Chinese medicine term for each of the 20 pathways throughout the body for the flow of qi, or vital energy, accessed through acupuncture points.
A study done to obtain information about a treatment's safety and side effects when given at different doses to animals or to cells grown in the laboratory.
Acupuncture therapy usually involves a series of weekly or biweekly treatments in an outpatient setting. It's common to have up to 12 treatments in total. Although each acupuncture practitioner has his or her own unique style, each visit typically includes an exam and an assessment of your current condition, the insertion of needles, and a discussion about self-care tips. An acupuncture visit generally lasts about 30 minutes.
Before the needles are placed, you'll lie down on a comfortable surface. Depending on where the needles are to go, you will lie facedown, faceup or on your side. Make sure that your acupuncturist uses single-use sterile packaged needles. You may feel a brief, sharp sensation when the needle is inserted, but generally the procedure isn't painful.
It's common, however, to feel a deep aching sensation when the needle reaches the correct depth. After placement, the needles are sometimes moved gently or stimulated with electricity or heat. As many as a dozen needles may need to be placed for each treatment. Once the needles are inserted, they're usually left in place for five to 20 minutes.