Acupuncture is based on the idea that a life energy, called chi or qi, flows through pathways that connect the body's tissues and organs. If the paths, or meridians, are disrupted, pain and disease result. Acupuncture is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which believes that these meridians may be manipulated by finger pressure, known as acupressure, or by the insertion of fine needles, called acupuncture, to allow blocked energy to flow again. Many of the acupuncture points are located at major intersections of the autonomic nervous system, which may explain why they can treat pain in an area far from where the needles are inserted.
Scientific evidence supports claims that acupuncture helps relieve pain, including: headache, low back pain, arthritic pain, trigeminal neuralgia, the pain of tennis elbow and cervical spondylolisthesis, and menstrual cycle pain. It may also be used effectively to treat: insomnia, fatigue, digestive disorders, bronchial asthma, addictions, bedwetting, eczema, psoriasis and shingles; and the muscular weakness resulting from stroke.