In my Decatur acupuncture clinic I get asked these questions all of the time. Since they crop up frequently I think it means that they are great questions! So, if you are new to acupuncture and have wondered about these things then this post is for you! Or perhaps you have been seeing me and just have not asked your burning question…then this post is for you too!
1. Does it hurt? This has to be the top question and for good reason! Who wants to do something that hurts? Acupuncture should not be painful (and this goes for cupping and gua sha as well). You may feel a momentary sharpness, a zing or some achiness with some points but that should be gone before you can even tell me about it. I have many patients that don’t feel any of the needles and a few that are more sensitive but still don’t find the process painful. I have had people come see me after receiving “dry needling” from a physical therapist because it was so painful. I can make their pain go away without actually causing them pain in the process. A win-win.
2. Are the needles sterile? Yes, acupuncture needles are sterile, single-use, medical devices. After one use they are placed in a sharps container and disposed of as medical waste. All acupuncturists are required to have certification in clean needle technique.
3. What should I do or not do after an acupuncture treatment? In general you want to take it easy for a few hours after a treatment. You don’t have to go home and curl up on the couch (but by all means do so if you want!) but just go easy for a few hours. Give your body what it wants. Drink water, move gently, eat lightly. Don’t do a big workout or hop in a sauna or hit the bar. Just let your body integrate the treatment and go for a run or do that ashtanga yoga class tomorrow.
4. How many treatments will I need? The number of acupuncture treatments depends upon you and how long your have been experiencing your problem. If it is something that has been going on for years it will likely take more treatments than something that happened last weekend. For example, if you wrenched your back last weekend we can probably get your back to pain-free and fully functioning in a couple of treatments. If you have been experiencing back pain for the last year that will take more then a couple of treatments to resolve. You will likely feel relief in the first one to two sessions but to fully resolve any long standing issue you will need to correct the underlying problem. Think of it like taking antibiotics. You start to feel better in the first couple of days but you need to complete the course of medication or your risk a relapse.
5. What conditions does acupuncture treat? Just about anything! In the era of super specialized medicine this sounds crazy to some people. Because acupuncture focuses on re-establishing health rather than chasing symptoms it can resolve a wide range of issues. Check out this page for a list of conditions I commonly treat: http://www.dogwoodhealingarts.com/conditions/.
6. How can acupuncture treat issues like anxiety and depression? Many people think acupuncture is just for physical pain. While it is fantastic at resolving physical pain it is equally powerful for resolving emotional pain. Chinese Medicine is holistic, meaning it treats the mind, body and spirit. The mind, body and spirit are inseparable and emotions can impact the health of the physical body and visa versa. Think about the last time you experienced a loss or heartbreak, it probably took a physical toll as well as an emotional toll. With the heaviness in your chest you may have felt like your heart was physically breaking. The emotions are just a more ethereal aspect of our body. My background is in social work and I bring a particular expertise in treating psychological issues. Here are some related blog posts you might enjoy: http://www.dogwoodhealingarts.com/blog/brokenopen and http://www.dogwoodhealingarts.com/blog/relieveanxietytwithacupuncture .
Have a burning question I missed? Please write it the comment section and I’ll do a part 2 blog post!