Many sites tell you acupuncture doesn’t hurt, but that is not always true. The fact is that the needles themselves rarely hurt going in, what causes sensation is when the needles contact the qi (that energy within the body that we are addressing to help you get well). Some points have an electrical sensation, others a dull achy feeling, others not much sensation at all. It all varies with the point used and what is going on in your body. Often you can feel the qi moving along the channel we are working on. (Which is really cool!)
Acupuncture uses single use sterile needles about the size of head hair. (About 18 of these needles can fit into a hypodermic needle that doctors use to give medicine or take blood). There is little to no risk of infection, the needles come sterilized, are used once and then discarded. They have a handle on them that prevents them from going all the way into the body and getting “lost”, so you don’t have to worry about that, and we use different sizes for different parts of the body. One used on the wrist will be very short, compared to one used on the leg.
An initial treatment is 90 minutes because we use a very extensive intake form and go over everything that is going on with you. Unlike Western medicine that is often only concerned with what is hurting you that day, Chinese medicine understands that EVERYTHING is a part of the whole picture. How your digestion is doing may very well have to do with your back pain. It’s all connected and we look at the entire picture.
Follow-up treatments usually take about an hour to review how you are feeling, figure out a treatment plan and treat you. The needles usually only stay in for an average of 20 minutes, but you may also receive moxa or cupping or tuina as a part of your treatment.
Treatment frequency is as variable as people are! So much depends on what is wrong, how acute it is, how long it’s been going on, etc. If you’ve had a problem for 30 years, it will take more than an hour to get your body back on track. If you have an acute sudden injury or illness, often only a few treatments can get you back in the game. The joy of acupuncture is it has a host of side “benefits” rather than side effects. You come in for knee or back pain and after several treatments not only is your pain better but your insomnia is getting better, your acid reflux is clearing up, mood swings are better, and you feel better overall!
We recommend committing to at least six treatments to adequately address your problem. Remember, you didn’t get this way in a day and we can’t fix you in an hour!
The easy answer is EVERYTHING!, but, please see our acupuncture benefits page for more details.
Yes! Acupuncture and Western care can and should work together! We will not tell you to get off medication or to change anything without the consent of and knowledge of your primary practitioner. We want to work in concert with your doctor to help you get better. Many times the goal of treatment may be to get off of medications and that should be done under a doctor’s guidance as you get better. We follow in the tradition of Van Nghi who was insistent that Western Medicine and Chinese Medicine were not separate scientific pursuits, but that there was One Medicine.
First, remember it is not good to come to acupuncture on an empty stomach or an overly full stomach. Try to eat a little snack before your treatment.
When you come in for your initial treatment there is an intake form that will ask questions about your health history and what is happening to you now. Everything matters! If you fell out of a tree when you were 10 or you used to have headaches but no longer do, all of that information is useful in making a complete diagnosis of your condition.
As we go over your intake we will ask questions to get more details and then we will take your pulses at the wrist and look at your tongue. After that you will get on the massage table. You usually do not have to get undressed but it is helpful if you wear clothes that allow access to your arms and legs. (Tight leg jeans are not recommended, sweat pants or yoga pants are best.) We may massage you a bit to get an idea of where you are tight and where you have pain. You may get some cupping or guasha before your treatment.
When you are treated with the needles, remember, these are tiny, solid, sterile, single-use needles! There is little to no chance of infection. We use a small gage needle so you don’t feel it and it rarely hurts when it goes in. You may feel something upon the arrival of qi (deqi) to the needle and then you may feel a sensation that could be tingling, achy, electrical, heavy, dull, etc. It’s different for every person and point and situation. That is when you know that energy is moving, things are shifting and healing is happening.
We turn down the lights after your needles are in and let you rest for approximately 20 minutes. This is a good time to listen to your body, feel the energy moving, or just rest. If anything is too uncomfortable we can adjust the needles or pull them out. It is often a time of intense relaxation.
When it is time, we come in and pull the needles out, (they are disposed of directly into a Sharp’s container), check your pulses again and see how you are feeling. You may receive some moxabustion after your needles are pulled or during your treatment. Then when you are finished, we will discuss a treatment plan for you, make your next appointment and you will go on to have a wonderful day! It is recommended that you don’t do anything too strenuous or crazy right after a treatment! If you are too relaxed or light headed it is good to wait a few minutes before you attempt to drive.