Are You New to Acupuncture?
Acupuncture involves the insertion of extremely thin, disposable needles through your skin at strategic points on your body. A key component of East Asian Medicine (EAM), acupuncture is most commonly used to treat pain.
Acupuncture is a technique for balancing the flow of energy, known as qi (pronounced CHEE), that travels through pathways, also called meridians or channels, in your body. By inserting needles into specific points along these meridians, acupuncture helps reduce pain and tension. Certain points are used to treat different organs and conditions and others are used to give your immune system a boost.
Many Western practitioners view the acupuncture points as places to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue. This stimulation appears to boost the activity of your body’s natural painkillers (endorphins) to increase blood flow, and reduce inflammation.
You may try acupuncture for an endless list of diseases and conditions, including:
- Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
- Low back pain
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Allergies and Colds
- Auto-immune conditions
- Shoulder or neck pain
- Post-surgical pain
- Depression and Anxiety
What To Expect
Before beginning the treatment, I will ask you questions about symptoms and what you’d like to focus on that day. Examination of the part of your body that is bothering you. Each time you come in is a different snapshot of your overall health, so the treatment is adjusted accordingly.
This initial evaluation and follow-up visits take around 60 minutes. I usually recommend trying 3-4 treatments in a month to see if there is improvement. Additional therapies include a warming herbal treatment called moxibustion, electro-stimulation of the needles, a scraping treatment called gua sha, acupressure, herbs, and nutrition.
Acupuncture points are located in all areas of the body. Sometimes the appropriate points are far removed from the area of your pain. Treatments can be face-up, face-down like a massage, or side-lying with a pillow between your knees. A sheet will be provided to preserve your modesty if any articles of clothing need to be removed. Many treatments are performed face-up and fully-clothed. After you lie down on a padded table, the treatment begins.
Needle insertion. Acupuncture needles are very thin, so insertion is usually very comfortable. Between 5 and 20 needles are used in a typical treatment. There is no point that needs to be used and once they are in place, there shouldn’t be any discomfort.
Needle manipulation. Your practitioner may gently move or twirl the needles after they’ve been placed.
Needle removal. The needles remain in place for anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes while you lie still and relax, you can even nap. A bell may be placed in your hand in case you need anything during the treatment. There is usually no sensation of discomfort when the needles are removed. Needles are discarded as biohazard waste and never reused.
Some people feel relaxed while others feel energized after an acupuncture treatment. Some people feel slightly more sore before the pain diminishes. Just pay attention to your body the next 2 days after your session. It is a good idea to take care of yourself, exercise, drink enough water, and eat nutritious food to support the effects of your treatment. If your symptoms don’t begin to improve within a few months, you may want to also work with a physical therapist, chiropractor, orthopedist, personal trainer or other practitioner. Acupuncture works well in combination with any of these modalities, especially bodywork.
Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years and can treat a wide variety of disorders.
Try it for yourself!