What is acupuncture?acupuncture

Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that has been practiced for centuries. It’s based on the theory that energy, called chi (say “chee”), flows through and around your body along pathways called meridians.

Acupuncturists believe that illness occurs when something blocks or unbalances your chi. Acupuncture is a way to unblock or influence chi and help it flow back into balance.

Acupuncture is done by putting very thin needles into your skin at certain points on your body. This is done to influence the energy flow. Sometimes heat, pressure, or mild electrical current is used along with needles.

What happens during acupuncture?

Your acupuncture provider will give you an exam and ask questions about your pain and how well you are functioning. He or she will also ask about your overall health.

Then your provider will look for the places (called points) on your body to access the chi that is blocked or not flowing right. Each of the points relates to certain health problems or body functions.

Your provider will look for landmarks on your body-using certain muscles or bones, for example-to find the points so that he or she can place the needles.

After the provider finds the points, he or she will quickly tap very thin needles into your skin. He or she will probably place several needles. Some may be placed deeper than others, depending on what the provider believes is needed to restore the flow of chi.

Every provider is different, but in most cases treatment lasts for 15 minutes to an hour. You may have several visits to complete your treatment. Some people have ongoing visits.

What does it feel like?

You may feel slight pressure when a needle goes in. Most people find that it doesn’t hurt. The area may tingle, feel numb, itch, or be a little sore. Providers believe that this is a sign that the energy flow, or chi, has been accessed.

After the needle is placed, your provider may roll the needle slightly back and forth. Or he or she may use heat or electrical current on the needle.

What is acupuncture used for?

People use acupuncture to relieve pain and treat certain health conditions. You can use it by itself or as part of a treatment program. Studies have found promising results for the use of acupuncture to treat nausea and vomiting related to pregnancy, chemotherapy, and postsurgery pain. Acupuncture also may be useful for:

  • Stroke rehabilitation, which involves relearning skills that a person lost because of brain damage from a stroke.
  • Headache.
  • Menstrual cramps.
  • Tennis elbow.
  • Fibromyalgia, or widespread pain and tenderness of muscle and soft tissue.
  • Myofascial pain, caused by spasm in the muscles.
  • Low back pain. For people who have low back pain, acupuncture may help decrease pain and increase activity. Some studies show that acupuncture reduced pain and disability related to back problems more than usual treatment.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome, or pressure on a nerve in the wrist that results in tingling, numbness, weakness, or pain of the fingers and hand.
  • Asthma, or inflammation in the tubes that carry air to the lungs, resulting in periodic episodes of difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing.
  • Drug addiction. Acupuncture may help reduce symptoms of withdrawal after a person stops taking a drug he or she is addicted to. It may also help prevent a relapse. More studies are needed to learn about the benefits of acupuncture.
  • Dental pain.
  • Labor pain.

Is acupuncture safe?

In general, acupuncture is safe when done by a certified provider. A state license ensures that the provider has a certain level of training and follows certain guidelines. But there are still a few states where acupuncture is not licensed.

Talk with your doctor if you have other questions about the safety of acupuncture. Always tell your doctor if you are using a treatment like acupuncture.


Acupuncture Availability at Journeys Healing & Wellness Center:

Joanna is available at Journeys Healing & Wellness Center on Mondays and Tuesdays from 9:00-4:00pm. She has a very flexible schedule and may have a few evenings available as well as possible Saturday availability. If you are interested in an appointment or have any questions please contact Joanna at 847-975-2571 or email her at


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Joanna Johnston, Acupuncturist

Joanna has a long history in healthcare, having worked as a Registered Nurse, primarily in Home Health Care for over 25 years.  While working as a nurse, Joanna developed a strong belief that a holistic approach to healing is preferable to focusing solely on physical symptoms.  This approach recognizes that emotional, psychological, and environmental factors directly and indirectly impact the body’s ability to heal.

Joanna’s interest in Eastern medicine, particularly acupuncture, began when she struggled with infertility.  Like many women in that situation she placed her hope in Western medicine which offered incredibly advanced technological treatments, but they were invasive and expensive and could potentially lead to undesirable side effects.  Nonetheless, she tried numerous fertility treatments and procedures, none of which was successful.  Acupuncture offered a gentle and inexpensive alternative.  And it was fascinating.  How could inserting tiny needles at specific areas on the body affect one’s health so profoundly?  She began acupuncture treatments and the next IVF was a success!   Not surprisingly, her passion for acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine only grew stronger and she realized this dream needed to be fulfilled.  Nursing was extremely rewarding, providing amazing opportunities to teach people how to cope with illness and also to be a part of their healing, but Traditional Chinese Medicine offered so much more.

Shortly thereafter Joanna enrolled in the Midwest Collect of Oriental Medicine.  She studied full time while continuing to work as a Home Health Nurse.  Four years later she graduated from the Midwest College of Oriental Medicine with the combined degrees of Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Master of Science in Oriental Medicine.  She had previously earned her BS in Nursing from Northern Illinois University.

Joanna’s philosophy can best be described as “East meets West”.  She believes Western medicine absolutely has its place but prefers a more natural, gentle solution if possible.  Acupuncture and other Eastern treatments offered by Joanna, such as cupping, gua sha and nutritional guidance offer tremendous healing potential.  These treatments stimulate the body’s natural resources, relying upon the body’s innate ability to heal itself.  She also believes prevention is best and Chinese Medicine can detect and adjust subtle imbalances in our bodies before they become illness.  Joanna will work closely with each client to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for them.