Department of Anaesthesia, Royal Free Hospital, London, UK
Acupuncture (Latin “acus” with a “needle”; “pungere” meaning “puncture through the skin”) has been in use for more than 2,000 years. Acupuncture is based on awareness of human senses. It is based on the Yin and Yang theory. Yin (dark, feminine) is complimentary to Yang (bright, masculine). The imbalance between the two leads to disease.
Qi is the essence of life. It flows through meridians. It flows just under the skin at some points. Qi is the link between the viscera and skin. Any disturbance of Yin and Yang will cause disturbance of Qi leading to disease. Blockage of Qi in one or more channels may lead to pain and acupuncture leads to unblockage and analgesia. Acupuncture involves applying needles to the specific points to get Yang, Yin and Qi in harmony. It may simply involve application of needles or may involve burning herbs to the acupuncture points (moxibustion) or applying suction to the points (cupping). DeQi is the feeling one gets on application of acupuncture needles. It is perceived as heavy and aching warm feeling. It is due to stimulation of Aβ and C fibres. The sensation travels along the meridians at the rate of 1–10 cm/s. The sensation can be blocked by local anaesthetic and cooling.