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Acupuncture: 9 things you need to know

Perhaps this is your first time getting acupuncture, or perhaps you had tried it before but never heard these things from your acupuncturist. At Akupeng, we strive to communicate as much as possible with our patients in order to ensure the best treatment experience, as well as achieve the best results. In this article, we have compiled the top questions about acupuncture, and you may want to know them for your own benefit.



What does acupuncture treat?


The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends acupuncture for over 100 conditions.


The most common targeted treatments are for conditions such as chronic pain, arthritis, rhinitis, fatigue, infertility, headaches, tinnitus, sleep disorders, indigestion, hormonal imbalances, allergies, eczema, PMS or menopause symptoms, sciatica, depression, stress, and more.



How painful is acupuncture?


Acupuncture needles are about the size of a human hair when compared to other types of needles. As a result, most people report little or no pain from the treatment. If pain is your main concern, do not worry! It should not hurt. If you are simply afraid of needles, Tuina massage, Gua Sha, or cupping are excellent alternatives.



How often should I have acupuncture?


2-3 times a week in the initial stage of treatment is recommended. Once your condition stabilizes, we advise you to continue the treatment once a week until the complete recovery.



How long does it take acupuncture to work?


To see the best results, usually patients should complete 5 to 6 sessions as a course of treatment. However, most people will start to see positive results already after one to three treatments. This does not mean their symptoms are gone, only that pain would be less severe, sleep may be better, and they could have better days than before. Those who respond well to acupuncture are suggested with continued treatment until their body reaches a good balance.


Some simple problems, especially in children and young people with good health, can be solved in two or three treatments.



What are the side effects of acupuncture?


The most common positive side effects of acupuncture are better sleep, more energy, mental clarity, better digestion and less stress.


Less welcomed common side effects are:


Soreness, minor bleeding or bruising where the needles were inserted.


Dizziness, nausea, or feeling tired after treatment. These feelings may occur to some people, and they are considered as a normal reaction and usually go away quickly.


The tiredness can feel like an undeserved hangover. This may happen to the patients who sleep too late every night or have an upside down daily schedule. But a good rest is how your body heals, and the tiredness is your body's way of telling you to slow down or pay attention to your sleep routine.


Intensified Symptoms. In few cases, especially for people with chronic pain for years, the symptoms may worsen before they improve. This is because acupuncture stimulates the body to heal faster, and as a result, it can intensify their symptoms as the body works through it. The increased intensity means that your body is healing. Usually this feeling only lasts 1 or 2 days. We call it the “rebalance period”. After the period is over, patients will start to feel the benefits.


Emotional Discharge. Some patients may experience emotional discharge, such as spontaneous crying. Acupuncture can cause increased expression of emotion both during and after treatment. However, when that emotion arises, it is important to accept it rather than trying to push it back down. It is a good sign that your body is trying to bring the accumulated negative emotions to the surface and release them. Keep in mind that you are embarking on a journey to balance, and emotions are a part of that journey.


Sometimes patients may feel unsure about continuing treatment because of the intensified symptoms or strange emotional discharge, but the effects are beneficial, and they are a necessary part of the rebalancing process.



Tips you should know before acupuncture treatment


  • Try to wear loose fitting clothing that allows for movement.

  • Do not fast yourself, but eat a light meal 2 hours before treatment. Otherwise, you may feel uncomfortable during treatment or may feel dizzy afterwards.

  • Avoid coffee and alcohol for at least 2 hours before treatment.


Tips you should know after acupuncture treatment


  • Avoid cold showers or baths within 8 hours.

  • Drink enough water.

  • Avoid ice and cold. Avoid using ice as an additional means of relieving chronic pain. Cold increases the body’s stagnation. Chinese medicine believes that most non-acute pain conditions normally come out from body stagnation and immobility. Using heat alongside acupuncture allows seamless blood flow and eliminates blockages, speeding up the healing process.

  • Going easy with your body, even if you feel energized after treatment.


What should you expect to feel during acupuncture treatment?


Acupuncture usually does not hurt, while it can cause other sensations. Usually these sensations are a sign that the acupuncture is working and that we are activating the point and tapping into the body’s energetic network. These sensations are typically very mild. Acupuncturists call this sensation “de qi” or “arrival of qi”, which makes for a more effective treatment.


These are the most common sensations that you may feel when getting acupuncture.

  • The insertion: a brief pinprick or pinching sensation.

  • A mild, dull ache or soreness

  • Heaviness, numbness

  • A slight tingling or electrical feeling

  • Itching

  • Sensation of heat or cold

Oops, acupuncture should never be sharp or painful. If you feel sharpness or burning, do not hesitate to tell your acupuncturist. This is usually a sign that the acupuncture needle has been placed improperly and needs adjusting. It happens occasionally and is not a cause for concern.


However, it is important to let your acupuncturist know so that they can make adjustments to ensure you are comfortable and relaxed during treatment.



What is the acupuncture treatment process at Akupeng?


To start your acupuncture session, I will typically meet with you first to discuss how you are feeling and to take your pulse and look at the coating of your tongue. Depending on the diagnosis, I will then decide what treatment will be most effective. You may be asked to remove partial clothing and to get comfortable on top of a massage table - I will leave the room for this.


Sometimes the treatment will begin with a Tuina massage, to make sure your muscles are relaxed and for better treatment results, and then I will set the needles into your skin. Once the needles are placed, you will be left alone to relax with quiet, relaxing music. I may come in to check on you, or to adjust the needles already in place. The only thing you need to do is to relax and let the needles do their work. It is totally fine to fall asleep, actually it happens to many people.





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