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Acupuncture is a therapeutic technique that originated in China more than five thousand years ago. It is based on the idea that vital energy, or qi, must flow in the correct strength and quality throughout the body in order to maintain health. Illness and disease are related to blockages and stagnation of qi. To stimulate or balance the flow of energy in a patient's body, an acupuncturist inserts special, very thin needles just under the skin at specific spots called acupoints. Often the patient does not even feel these needles and they typically do not draw blood. Depending on the patient's symptoms and how they respond during the session, the needles may simply be left in place for a few minutes or more stimulation may be applied. This stimulation may include the application of gentle pressure, mild heat or a small amount of electricity to the needle.