Contemporary Medical Acupuncture is a precise peripheral nerve stimulation technique in which acupuncture needles are inserted into anatomically defined neuro-functional sites and stimulated for the therapeutic purpose of modulating abnormal activity of the nervous system, in pain syndromes, functional problems, and any diseases in which these modulatory mechanisms are available.
A traditional Chinese acupuncturist will also do a very comprehensive history/physical combination and make a diagnosis based on complex theories regarding disturbance in the body’s balance that needs to be addressed with treatment. The imbalances will be quantified by excess or deficiency with respect to what are considered the five elements: water, fire, earth, metal and wood.
This is just the basic information regarding the two types of acupuncture. Traditional acupuncture has formed the base for the more modern contemporary medical approach and both have been shown to provide clinical benefits to patients.