• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Will lying on pins, needles provide relief?

April 20, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Licensed acupuncturist Brenda Smith explained what happens in an acupuncture session. But rather than a traditional treatment, she helped us test a product we wanted to research: a mat advertised in many health magazines as a modern day bed of nails, designed to improve health, energy and well-being.

"I wasn't quite sure when you brought it over. And I've been using it about a week or so, and I'm actually really impressed," said Smith.

The mat has 8,820 spikes to hit key areas on your back. Smith says there aren't that many acupuncture points on the back. There are only about 100 points, but she feels the mat is designed for people of all sizes.

"Seems to primarily relax the muscles. I found that definitely. And in relaxing the muscles, it's going to release the nerve conduction. It's going to stimulate blood circulation. It is going to release endorphins to some degree," said Smith. "If you have back pain because of muscle spasm or headache because of muscle spasm, then that's going to be alleviated as well."

But in no way is Smith suggesting it as a replacement for acupuncture, as therapists first would never put needles in all of those hundred points. Each individual treatment varies according to the client's condition.

"I would not use it as a treatment in and of itself. But I thought between treatments it would be a nice adjunct," said Smith.

If you are giving it a go, the makers of the mat suggest you use it on your bare skin, but initially you can use a thin sheet or T-shirt. Start for 10 minutes a day and work your way up to 30 minutes.

There are several mats on the market offered by different companies, all seemingly with the same amount of pressure spikes, and they cost around $40.