It’s common to have questions about acupuncture. Because acupuncture treatment involves needles, it can seem intimidating or downright scary!
At Encircle Acupuncture, we see many patients who have never received acupuncture treatment before visiting us. As a result, we’ve been asked almost every question possible about getting acupuncture and what the process is like.
We want to demystify the process by answering the most common questions we’ve received from the thousands of patients we have helped since we started in 2010.
Do acupuncture needles hurt?
No, the needles do not hurt. In fact, most people barely feel anything when needles are inserted. Some people feel a slight pinch, and others ask “Is it in yet?” Acupuncture needles are solid, flexible, and very, very thin (about the width of two hairs).
There are certain sensations associated with the therapeutic effects of acupuncture. These may include slight cramping, heaviness, distention, tingling or electric sensation traveling along a meridian. If any discomfort is experienced, it is usually mild and temporary.
This video demonstration shows just how tiny the acupuncture needles are and that you hardly feel a thing.
And if you don’t want to take our word for it, here’s what some of our patients had to say about it!
Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is widely acknowledged as one of the safest forms of medicine. Acupuncture needles are pre-sterilized, individually packaged, and disposable. Acupuncturists undergo extensive training and are regulated by the individual states’ medical board.
One of the greatest advantages of acupuncture is that it has virtually no side effects. Occasionally a small temporary bruise may appear at the site of an acupuncture needle. When compared to the laundry list of cautions and side effects for the average pharmaceutical drug, acupuncture is very low risk!
How often do I need to come in for treatment?
The frequency of treatment depends on your medical condition. One of the benefits of the payment sliding scale is that allows patients to come in frequently, often two to three times per week.
Many conditions respond faster to frequent acupuncture treatments, while other patients only need to come in once a week. Once your condition is stabilized, you won’t need to come in as frequently. When you come in for your first treatment, we’ll formulate a specific treatment plan for you.
How does acupuncture work?
In Chinese medical theory, acupuncture works by balancing the body’s Qi. Qi can be described as a form of bioenergy that runs along meridians. If Qi gets blocked, it shows up as an imbalance or illness. Basically, if you have a health condition, some part of your body’s system is out of whack. Chinese medical theory allows us to diagnose the imbalance… and balance it.
In Western medical theory, acupuncture appears to work by stimulating parts of the brain. It also stimulates the body to release natural biomolecules such as neurotransmitters, vasodilators, and hormones. The exact mechanisms which bring this about are unknown, but the effects are measurable.
How long should I rest with the needles in?
When people come in for the first time, they aren’t sure how long they should stay and rest with the needles in. We often tell our patients to stay for at least 30 minutes for the treatment to take effect.
Resting with the needles in longer doesn’t necessarily mean you will get a better treatment or more benefit from the treatment. However, if you are in a restful state, feel free to stay as long as you like. The body heals best when it is resting.
However, if your mind is wandering and you aren’t restful, it won’t help you to stay longer. The best thing to do is to listen to your body.
Do you need to see the same acupuncturist every time?
The short answer is no, you don’t. We are all trained a little differently, so we might use different techniques or use different points.
But, the goal for all of us is the same. And we all chart what we do so we can see how each practitioner is treating you. Watch the full answer here.
How can I learn more about how acupuncture works?
We highly recommend a great little book called Why Did You Put that Needle There? by our friend Andy Wegman of Manchester Acupuncture Studio. You can buy a copy at our clinic for $6, or click here to download a free copy.