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According to acupuncture, life force circulates in the body along 12 major energy pathways called meridians. There are over 1000 acupoints within the meridian system that can be stimulated to optimize the flow of the life force or qi.
An trained practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) or acupuncturist will typically diagnose the patient by studying a patient's pulse and using other diagnostic tools. Using the meridian system, acupuncture uses special needles placed into acupoints to rebalance the energy on specific meridian pathways. The intended effect is to correct the flow of energy, and restore health and function.
Serious adverse effects associated with the use of acupuncture are rare. 1,2 The most commonly reported problems include short-term pain from needle insertion, tiredness, and minor bleeding. There is one report of infection caused by acupuncture given to a person with diabetes. 3 Some acupuncture points lie over the lungs and insertion to excessive depth could conceivably cause a pneumothorax (punctured lung). Because acupuncturists are trained to avoid this complication, it is a rare occurrence.
A recent report from China contained an example of another complication caused by excessively deep needling. 4 A 44-year-old man was needled on the back of the neck at a commonly used acupuncture point just below the bony protuberance at the base of the...