Acupuncture, Cupping, & Gua Sha

Acupuncture is done by Dr. Janine Rihmland at The Health Center for Integrative Medicine. She is a Diplomate of the American Board of Medical Acupuncture and is a licensed physician acupuncturist in the state of Pennsylvania. Medical Acupuncture is different than ordinary acupuncture since it is done by a doctor trained in Western Medicine who has also received thorough training in acupuncture. She received her acupuncture training through the Helms Medical Institute (

Medical Acupuncture

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one of the oldest systems of healing that originated in China at least 2,500 years ago. It caught America’s attention after President Richard Nixon, along with his own physician, made a trip to China in 1972 and witnessed several surgeries utilizing acupuncture for analgesia.

The classical Chinese explanation for how acupuncture works derives from channels of energy, called meridians, that run in regular patterns throughout our body to move Qi (energy) which nourishes our body and is essential for health and well-being. It is believed that an obstruction or disruption of this movement of energy then leads to imbalances or illnesses. By inserting thin needles into specific acupuncture points, the obstructions are thereby unblocked.

The modern scientific explanation is that needling specific acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the brain, spinal cord, and muscles that will then produce a change in the body leading to a change in pain or leading to other chemicals that will influence the body’s own natural healing abilities.

Medical acupuncture is a combination or hybrid of these worlds. There are a variety of approaches to diagnosis and treatment, derived from both Asian and European sources. Thus, the physician acupuncturist can creatively intervene using needles in various combinations and patterns to improve energy and biochemical balance in order to stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities. While acupuncture was often associated with pain control, medical acupuncture has much broader applications that can influence promotion of health and well-being, prevention of illness, and treatment of various medical conditions.

Methods That May Be Used With Acupuncture

Aside from needles being used in the ear, on the body, and/or on the scalp, heat may be applied to certain areas of the body so that the needles can conduct that heat deeper into the body to enhance healing. In addition, a current of electricity may be applied to needles that may feel like a tapping, buzzing, or vibration, again to enhance the treatment.

Gua Sha is a traditional Chinese medical treatment that involves repeated pressured strokes or scraping of the lubricated skin with a smooth edged instrument in order to release holding patterns of pain within the muscles and to stimulate an enhanced blood supply to the area of concern. Pressure can be varied so that the treatment is not uncomfortable. The skin does look bruised afterwards.

Fire Cupping, or just referred to as Cupping, is an ancient form of medicine that has recently gained popularity because of its use in American sports and entertainment celebrities. This process involves placing glass cups over the skin that is the focus of a problem. By using a flame within the cup, it creates a vacuum so that as the flame is removed and the cup is applied, there is suction to draw up the skin into the cup. This process interrupts the holding patterns of pain within the skin, muscle, and connective tissue and stimulates an enhanced blood supply to the area of concern. Like Gua Sha, it tends to not be an uncomfortable procedure and will leave bruising behind. It helps with pain, inflammation, muscle knots, scar tissue, relaxation and even a sense of well-being. Some people even liken this to a type of deep tissue massage.

Examples of Acute Issues Treated

-Shingles, herpes breakouts, localized skin rashes
-Bites, wounds, burns
-Tendon & muscle strains, tensions, pains
-Plantar faciitis, hip bursitis, tennis elbow, tailbone pain
-Nausea during/after chemo or radiation

Examples of Chronic Issues Treated

-Allergies, asthma, respiratory issues
-Neck, back, sciatica, tailbone pain
-Fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, muscle pain
-PMS, hormonal/menstrual/gynecologic issues
-Knee and shoulder pain, arthritis
-Chronic IT band tightness
-Gastrointestinal or urinary issues