Updated: Feb 18, 2019
Let's break it down.
1.Does Acupuncture Hurt?
The short answer is No. Acupuncture is painless, but not sensation-less. Many people imagine the feeling of getting a shot when they think about needles and acupuncture. Acupuncture feels NOTHING like getting a shot. Many patients don't even feel the needle go in, and most people find it very relaxing and fall into a deep rest. You may feel aching, warmth, pressure, or tingling at the acupuncture point. If people who haven't yet had acupuncture are nervous about the needles it is often due to past experiences with hollow-core, hypodermic needles. An acupuncture needle is over 400 times thinner than a hypodermic needle, flexible, and thinner than a human hair.
However, if you still find yourself nervous about Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine has many other tools to offer you that can be very effective, so come talk to us about Massage, Herbs, Cupping, and Moxibustion.
2. I went to a chiropractor / physical therapist / naturopath for acupuncture and it DID hurt. What gives?
There are two basic reasons behind this. If you go to a practitioner who is not a Licensed Acupuncturist, then there is now way of telling how much or if they have ANY training. On average these practitioners have 0-100 hours of training. Licensed Acupuncturists usually have around 3,000 hours of training and 4 years of clinical education and practice. So it's pretty simple. Good technique, no pain. If you want acupuncture, go to a full-time acupuncturist. Not a practitioner who does acupuncture 2-3 hours a week. There's just no way they will ever be as good because they aren't practicing as much.
Second reason, often practitioners using trigger point acupuncture or dry needling techniques use big, fat needles. And they don't have much training or hours of practice in. That will usually hurt. Licensed Acupuncturists have training, practice, and enough skill to use smaller needles that you don't feel like a hornet just stung you on the back.
3.Can you help me with ______?
Chinese Medicine is a truly holistic medical practice, so any person of any age, in health or disease, can benefit. Diseases can be prevented with Chinese pattern diagnosis and treatment, or treated once they have progressed.
Chinese Medicine diagnosis and treatment is based on clinical signs and symptoms, not on western disease diagnosis. Some conditions can be completely resolved, some can be significantly reduced, and some can be palliated but not permanently resolved. Regardless of your state of health or disease, with Chinese Medicine there is always something that can be done to improve your health.
If you have any combination of symptoms, diagnoses, or conditions - Yes, Chinese Medicine can help you by treating the root causes of your condition. If you don't feel right, but no lab test or doctor has been able to put a name to it - Yes, Chinese Medicine can help you. If you have a thousand disease diagnoses and labels - Yes, Chinese Medicine can help. If you are in good health but have concerns about aging, heart health, genetic pre-disposition to certain diseases, we can help you with preventative measures.
Our clinic has seen particularly good results with:
Autoimmune conditions: Hashimoto's thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, Guillain-Barre syndrome
Chronic infections: chronic Lyme disease, Epstein-Barre virus, intestinal parasites, chronic yeast infection
Fibromyalgia: chronic pain, chronic fatigue, sleep problems, brain fog, feelings of anxiety and depression
Cardiovascular Disorders: angina, atrial fibrillation, arrhythmias, valve disorders, palpitations, CHF
Men's Health: BPH, prostatitis, ED, premature ejaculation
Women's Health: menstrual pain & irregularity, endometriosis, uterine fibroids
Sexual Performance Enhancement: libido, stamina, sensitivity, dryness
Thyroid disorders: Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism
Environmental Sensitivity: Electromagnetic (EMF) Sensitivity, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)
Additionally, research has shown the following conditions to benefit from Chinese Medicine:
Acne Acid Reflux Allergies Anti-aging Arrhythmia Arthritis Anxiety Back pain Cardiovascular disorders Colds and flu Constipation Depression Diabetes Digestive disorders Eczema Fibroids Fatigue GERD Headache Hepatitis Herpes High cholesterol Hormone imbalance
Hot flashes High blood pressure IBS Infertility Irritability Insomnia Low Libido Menstrual pain & irregularity Menopause Mood swings Migraines Neck and shoulder pain Osteoporosis PMS Prostate disorders Psoriasis Sexual dysfunction Sinus infection Sore throat Sciatica Stop smoking Stress Sleep apnea Stroke SIBO Tendonitis Thyroid disorders TMD Weight loss
4. How long will it take to resolve my condition?
The answer to this question is highly variable depending on the condition, severity, age, and duration of illness. On your initial visit, your condition will be assessed and your treatment plan will reflect our prognosis for your recovery.
Acute conditions such as colds, flus, acute muscle tension and pain can often be resolved in 1-2 visits and 1-2 weeks of herbs. With early onset colds and flus, one dose of herbs can be enough to kick it out. Once the problem has gone deep into a sinus infection, bronchitis, or pneumonia, this can take 1-2 weeks of herbs to resolve, or longer for those with compromised immune function.
Chronic conditions such as chronic pain, sleep disorders, hormonal imbalances, chronic fatigue, hypertension, feelings of anxiety, depression, and any chronic illness have a much wider timeline of response. A general guideline is that it can often take as many weeks to fix the problem as it has been months you have had it. A problem that has been going on for 6 months may take 6 weeks to resolve. For chronic problems that have been going on for 2 years or longer it will often take 5-6 months to resolve.
Is it possible to have dramatic, rapid results? Yes, it certainly happens. Sometimes chronic pain can be reduced 75% or more in one visit, or patients with chronic fatigue can feel dramatically better in 1-2 weeks of herbs. Does the relief last? In our clinical experience, it lasts if you continue the treatment until you have stabilized the healthy state.
Chinese Medicine is a therapy, and it takes time to produce powerful, deep, and lasting changes in the body to correct disease processes. You don't go the gym one time and come out with a perfect physique. It takes time, commitment, and dedication. Your commitment, just like in training at the gym, rewards you with the gift of excellent health.
Patients routinely come to us for help with problems they have had for 10+ years. They've tried everything western medicine and other alternative medicines had to offer, but their problem persists. If I can help them, then I explain that it is going to take time and dedication, and in many cases 2-3 months of treatment, sometimes longer. Some patients feel dramatically better in 1-2 weeks, others take one or two months to notice positive change.
There are three phases of treatment.
1) Correction. The initial phase of reducing bothersome symptoms and correcting the underlying problems causing them. Once the problem is 60% reduced or more we move on to Stabilization.
2) Stabilization. The patient feels 60% or more relief from their problem. However long phase 1 took, phase 2 is the same length to make sure the problem doesn't come back. If phase 1 took 5 treatments to reduce pain by 60%, we will recommend another 5 visits to make sure it doesn't come back. Then we move on to Maintenance.
3) Maintenance. This phase is to prevent future problems and recurrence. The frequency of visits and dosage of herbs is significantly reduced from stage 1 and 2.
5. How does Acupuncture work? (Short Answer)
How Acupuncture promotes a healing response:
Acupuncture promotes blood circulation to facilitate optimal healing and recovery.
Acupuncture stimulates the release of endogenous pain-killers, which decreases inflammation and pain, and leads to increased blood perfusion to the affected area. Better blood perfusion results in increased rate of healing.
Acupuncture relaxes muscles, tendons, ligaments, connective tissues, and relieves spasms and pain.
Acupuncture stimulates the release of neurotransmitters including serotonin, dopamine, acetylcholine, and norepinephrine, to calm the mind, reduce pain, and balance the body.
Acupuncture regulates metabolism and proper distribution of body fluids.
Acupuncture breaks up stagnant blood and fibrous muscle adhesion’s in muscle and connective tissue to aid in resolving pain and recovery, including from chronic injury.
Acupuncture stimulates and regulates the nervous system.
For a more detailed dive into how acupuncture works, check out our article "How does Acupuncture work?"