Does acupuncture hurt and is it safe?
When practiced by a skilled, licensed acupuncturist, acupuncture is extremely safe. Acupuncture points are located in muscle and connective tissue, so the acupuncturist will not puncture blood vessels or nerve tissue. Acupuncture needles are extremely safe, because they are pre-sterilized, individually packaged, and used only once, so there is no risk of disease transmission. Most people barely feel a thing when needles are inserted because the needles are very thin. Some sensations people feel that are associated with the therapeutic effects of acupuncture are heaviness, distention, slight cramping, tingling, or moving sensations. If any discomfort is experienced, it is usually mild
How does it work?
Acupuncture is a balancing treatment that encourages the body to regulate and heal itself. Based on Chinese medical principles, acupuncture works by balancing the body’s energy. When the energy becomes blocked, it manifests as imbalance, pain and illness. Acupuncture strives to bring the body back into harmony, as harmony is health.
According to the National Institutes for Health (NIH), the insertion and manipulation of acupuncture needles sends subtle biochemical messages to the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Studies suggest that acupuncture can cause the body to release endorphins (chemicals that inhibit pain,) vasodilators, neurotransmitters, and hormones. This in turn helps to reduce inflammation, improve circulation and stimulate immune activity.
What is a treatment like?
During your first visit, we gain a comprehensive picture of your health while we spend a good amount of time with you. The visit can last up to an hour and a half. Your subsequent visits will usually be an hour long. We will review your health concerns and goals for which you’re seeking treatment. After reviewing your case on the first visit, we will make recommendations for a treatment plan. The exact duration of treatment depends on the condition, your basic level of health, and how well you respond to acupuncture. Typically acupuncture treatments are given once a week. If the condition is acute and painful, treatments may be given 2-3 times per week until the condition starts to come under control.
There are several things you can do to encourage your body’s ability to heal with acupuncture, and here are some great tips on how you can maximize not only your recovery time but also your experience:
1. In preparation for your treatment be sure to have a little food in your stomach. The reason for this is that receiving acupuncture on an empty stomach can be very depleting and lead to fainting. Yet, you also don’t want to be too full, as your body will be working hard to digest and you won’t reap the full benefits of the treatment. We suggest a light snack.
2. If it is your first treatment, arrive 15 minutes early to fill out paperwork. It is always a good idea to arrive a little early, so as not to rush.
3. You will be resting on the table for 20-30 minutes so be sure to empty your bladder beforehand and don’t expect to move while resting with the needles in.
4. Wear loose fitting clothes and try to be as relaxed as possible.
5. Turn off your cell phone and don’t try to multi task during your treatment.
6. Let the practitioner know if you’ve had any caffeine, tobacco, or alcohol. These substances will change our pulse and often the tongue coat, which are important diagnostic tools, and we don’t want our diagnosis to be thrown off by such items. It is really in your best interest to quit smoking all together as it interferes with your body’s ability to heal.
7. After your treatment, it is best to take it easy and relax as much as possible. Don’t overexert yourself mentally, emotionally, or physically. The acupuncture points remain stimulated for 24-48 hours after the treatment; it is not as if the treatment ends as soon as the needles are removed.
8. Be sure to drink plenty of pure water every day; a good gauge is to consume half of your body weight in ounces, so if you weigh 160 lbs, you need 80 ounces of water a day.
9. It is also very important to get enough restorative sleep every night, as the body heals as you sleep; the average person needs at least 8 hours per night.
10. Work to handle stress as effectively as possible, and to resolve any outstanding issues in troubled relationships.
11. Practice healthy eating habits and exercise on a regular basis.
As you continue your course of treatment, pay close attention to how your symptoms change in quality and frequency: be aware of how the treatments make you feel in terms of energy level, relief from pain or other symptoms, and quality of life; be as open and forthcoming with all of your health concerns and how they are changing. The more information you provide, the better your chances for success with acupuncture.
Our mission is to help you feel your best as quickly as possible. Following these guidelines you are taking an active part in your own health care, and you will be well on your way to living a balanced life with optimal health.