Jeff Angileri
Jan 28, 2009, 6:28 PM

For more than 4,000 years, the Chinese have used acupuncture to treat many ailments -- pain, stress, depression, even addiction.

Some doctors continue that practice today because, for many people, it works.

Lavonne Castre of Baraboo had chronic pain -- she was skeptical acupuncture would work for her. But, she didn't like the other options.

I actually couldn't go back to work because I was in so much pain, she said. I already had surgery. It would have been my third surgery.

After consulting with Dr. Maureen Murphy of the Dean Health System Lake Delton Clinic, she gave it a try.

Dr. Murphy describes acupuncture as working in this fashion -- needles in the skin stimulate pathways that travel through meridians and nerves to the spinal cord and brain. This is often used with low frequency electricity. This causes endorphin levels to rise and other chemicals to change, unblocking trapped energy and restoring its flow.

When stimulated with needles or pressure or heat -- it can help release blocked energy if someone has an injury or arthritis, said Dr. Murphy.

Dr. Murphy also treats patients with migraines, back pain, muscle strains, and even patients suffering from nausea after undergoing chemotherapy. She says acupuncture is just as effective as prescription medication.

Some people are so nauseous they'd rather no take a pill and risk throwing it up, Dr. Murphy said.

As for the needles -- do they hurt?

They're very thin, so that's not as painful. When you hit that G point where that energy collects, sometimes you feel a grab or an ache, Dr. Murphy said.

According to Castre, You feel them, but I wouldn't call it hurting.

Castre says the acupuncture treatments worked and she feels much better.

One or two treatments, and I could tell the difference.

Dr. Murphy says acupuncture is also very cost effective, and less time consuming. Alternative options like surgery and drugs can really add up. An acupuncture session generally costs about $50 to $90.

Some video and some information in this report are courtesy of the Mayo Clinic.