The technique of acupuncture has long been definitive in traditional Chinese medicine, and that is right as far as it goes.
However, this technique based on inserting very fine needles into the skin is but one facet of the whole of traditional Chinese medicine.
Acupuncture has many therapeutic uses, of which the most commonly known is probably pain relief.
The curative basis for acupuncture is that there are many points on the human body that are situated on or in the flow of natural energy. The paths along which the energy flows are known as meridians.
According to the philosophy of traditional Chinese medicine, disease is caused by problems with this flow. Acupuncture will open this flow and correct the problem. There is no correlation between anatomical structures and these points.
Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine readily admit this, insisting that the results of the practice are what matter more than the actual mechanics of the practice.
This forms the basis for most of the criticism that not only acupuncture but most of traditional Chinese medicine faces in the West. Research is underway to try to determine exactly how acupuncture works, and to attempt to form an easier alliance between traditional Chinese medicine and traditional Western medicine.
In acupuncture, the number of needles placed varies from only a few to as many as the practitioner feels are necessary. Typically insertion of the needles is painless, or only slightly uncomfortable.
In some treatments the needles remain stationary, while in other treatments the needles may be slightly rotated. (The burning of herbs atop the needles is known as moxibustion).
During the acupuncture treatment you will generally lie relaxed in a dim and quiet room. When the needles are removed, there is usually no bleeding. Most practitioners use disposable needles so there is no risk of infection.