This is a well-known form of oriental medicine. It was actually discovered by the Chinese thousands of years ago by mistake. At that time it was noted that soldiers who were injured with arrows recovered from diseases that had plagued them for years. Acupuncture involves the insertion of needles at certain points of the body, where vital energy is believed to flow. The use of acupuncture as anaesthesia (to relieve or block the sensation of pain) began in 1958 when it was first used to relieve postoperative pain. It was subsequently used as a general anaesthetic for general surgery. The ancient Chinese identified 26 meridians, pathways, or channels in the body through which energy (ch'i) flows. The meridians link a series of points where energy and blood converge, of which there are over 800 in the body.
Each point or set of points is associated with a specific organ or bodily function. Disease is believed to result where energy is blocked along one of these meridians, and for a healthy state, the ch'i must flow unobstructed. Locating the obstruction point or relaxing the point with acupuncture makes the pain or disease disappear and the balanced flow of energy is restored once again. Once the exact point needing treatment is located, the acupuncturist inserts a needle into the skin, the depth of insertion depending on the extent of the disease and the body system involved. Depending on the treatment required, the needle may be left in place for only a few seconds or several weeks. Most acupuncture in the Western world is used for the relief of pain.