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Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine that is used to treat a wide range of conditions. The traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) method is widely used in the United States. Based on the belief that a life force (qi) circulates within the body along pathways called meridians, acupuncture works to balance this flow of vital energy along the meridians at various depths. The practitioner may also gently move or twirl the needles, or apply heat or mild electrical pulses to them. Usually the needles remain in place for 10 to 20 minutes while the patient lies still and relaxes, and the energy flow rebalances. As the Mayo Clinic also points out, even Western practitioners view the acupuncture points as places to stimulate nerves, muscles, and connective tissue.