Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles through your skin at strategic points on your body. A key component of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is most commonly used to treat pain and internal disorders. Increasingly, it is being used for overall wellness, including stress management. Traditional Chinese medicine explains acupuncture as a technique for balancing the flow of energy or life force — known as chi or qi (chee) — believed to flow through pathways (meridians) in your body. By inserting needles into specific points along these meridians, acupuncture practitioners believe that your energy flow will re-balance. Many modern medical researchers view acupuncture points as places to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue. Some research indicates that this stimulation boosts your body's natural painkillers. Acupuncture is used mainly to relieve discomfort associated with a variety of diseases and conditions, including: Fibromyalgia Headaches, including Tension Headaches and Migraines Lower back pain and Sciatica Neck pain Osteoarthritis Menstrual cramps Mental health Respiratory disorders, such as Allergic Rhinitis and Sinusitis Tennis elbow The risks of acupuncture are low if you have a competent, certified acupuncture practitioner using sterile needles. Common side effects include soreness and minor bleeding or bruising where the needles were inserted. Single-use, disposable needles are now the practice standard, so the risk of infection is minimal.