What is Contemporary Medical Acupuncture (aka Neurofunctional Acupuncture – NFA)?
Neurofunctional Acupuncture is a specialized and precise peripheral nerve stimulation technique, in which fine solid needles are inserted into neuro-reactive anatomical locations (neuro-reactive reflex sites), and stimulated manually or with electricity for the therapeutic purposes of modulating abnormal activity of the nervous system and/or its associated effectors (i.e., immune and exocrine systems).
Peripheral nerve stimulation is also used to induce physiologic changes on the activity of the nervous system, for therapeutic purposes. NFA is designed to help treat pain, motor dysfunction (weakness/instability), and autonomic nervous system dysfunction (stress/anxiety).
Acupuncture points are used to produce an analgesic effect (analgesic meaning to relieve pain) on the nerves and body parts they are targeting. By stimulating the needles using electricity, we are affecting the nervous system at a local level (where the needle is inserted), spinal level (where the nerve exits the spinal cord), and supra-spinal level (in the brain cortex).
NFA is also used to help modulate the nervous system (i.e., decreasing sympathetic tone, decreasing stress, cortisol, hyperactive fight-or-flight responses, anxiety, etc.). Modulating the nervous system also means modulating blood flow to certain areas of our body through our autonomic nervous system (ANS). Arteries and veins carry very high nociceptors (pain-nerves), so pain is mostly caused by injury to arteries or veins within a muscle or group of muscles, supplying muscle, or supplying nerves. By affecting autonomic responses of blood vessels, we can, directly and indirectly, decrease pain, increase range of motion, and increase function of that body part (i.e., muscle, joint, limb).