What you will learn
Indwelling or intradermal needles stick to the surface of the skin and stay there for one to seven days. Just 1.5 mm long, they serve to gently stimulate an acupuncture point for a long time. They are used a lot in auriculotherapy (reflex points on the ears). Usually, the patient does not feel the needle at all while wearing it, which can be of benefit in treatment in children.
The plum blossom hammer
The plum blossom hammer, also called the seven star hammer or plum blossom needles, consists of a flexible handle capped with five or seven thin needles. It allows you to make superficial punctures by lightly hitting the skin of an area or an acupuncture point. In pediatrics, a needle roller is usually preferred, which can stimulate a large area without creating apprehension or pain.
The bleeding in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is done at a specific point. It is superficial, brief and rapid; only a few drops of Blood are extracted. A needle with a bevelled end, similar to those used by diabetics, is usually used to draw a small amount of blood and check their blood sugar levels. The bleeding makes it possible to disperse the Heat, reduce swelling (swelling, inflammation) and activate circulation. It is also particularly effective in cases of acute low back pain and tonsillitis.
Recent developments in knowledge of musculoskeletal pain provide the acupuncturist with an additional tool in their treatment. It is indeed interesting to note that there is an astounding parallel between the muscular chains – very recently identified – and the Tendino-muscular meridians described in ancestral Chinese texts. In addition, the origin of certain pain paths, explained by the Meridian Systems of TCM, but which Western medicine could not elucidate, is now better understood, in part thanks to modern trigger point theory1 . These are specific points that, when palpated, trigger the original pain described by the patient. However, not only do the paths taken by the pain often correspond to those of the Meridians, but in 70% of cases, there is a correlation between the location of a trigger point and that of an acupuncture point. .
For the past twenty years, athermic lasers (Low Level Lasers) have appeared in the acupuncturist’s toolbox. Emitting biostimulating light waves such as red and near infrared, they have analgesic, anti-inflammatory and healing actions2. Pain-free, perfectly aseptic and fast-acting, they are suitable for children, people who fear needles and those who do not respond to conventional treatments. In addition to stimulating traditional acupuncture points, the laser can locally treat various problems of musculoskeletal origin (tendonitis, arthritis, sprains) or dermatological (superficial burns, acne, herpes).
The laser has few contraindications. However, since it stimulates cell multiplication, it is not used on the stomach of a pregnant woman, on the growing cartilages of children, or on areas related to cancer, although it may be beneficial for treat side effects of chemotherapy. It is contraindicated in scanning in people with epilepsy. As light has a vasodilator effect, the laser should be used with caution in patients already taking certain vasodilator and anticoagulant drugs; but it can be used to treat circulatory problems like small varicose veins or rosacea. And of course, both the patient and the practitioner should wear protective goggles in case the ray accidentally hits the eyes.
Cupping was once widely used in the West, among other things to drain abscesses or to treat lung diseases. In TCM, they are often used to counteract Stagnations Blood. Suction cups are small pots, usually made of glass, pottery or bamboo, into which a flame is introduced which instantly consumes the oxygen thus creating a partial vacuum. They are immediately affixed to the body, which causes suction of the skin. It is this suction which generates the therapeutic effect, in particular on the blood which, after having been sucked towards the surface of the skin, circulates better.
The size and opening diameter of the suction cups vary depending on the anatomical regions to be treated. In America and Europe, glass suction cups are mainly used, because they are easily sterilized and have the advantage of allowing the intensity of the suction to be seen inside. There are three traditional methods of use:
- Guarded suction cups. They remain in the same place for the duration of the treatment.
- Flash suction cups. We put them in place for a few moments and we remove them immediately to replace them not far until the skin is slightly reddened on a given surface.
- Movable suction cups. After applying massage oil to the skin, we slide the suction cup there.
Suction cups can also be used to increase the effect of bleeding when you want to extract more Blood. A suction cup placed over an acupuncture needle can also amplify the effect of certain treatments, in cases of joint pain for example.
It is not uncommon to see a bluish red circle appear where the suction cup has been placed. It is a mild bruise that never lasts more than a few days.
Magnets are mostly used in Japanese acupuncture techniques. In recent years, there has been a wide variety of products containing magnets of different powers designed to stimulate acupuncture points (magnetic soles, magnets held by a tape to be placed on a painful region, etc.).