about Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine
We get it. This stuff is unusual. We're here to provide you with education and information so you can better understand what to expect.
Does it hurt? No! Acupuncture should not hurt. In fact most of our new patients comment on how easy and relaxing the treatments are. When receiving acupuncture it is normal and expected to feel some sensation... Afterall, the way acupuncture works is by COMMUNICATING with your body and your nervous system. The acupuncture needles tell your body what to do to heal itself. Think of the sensations like words being spoken to you. Without any communication, you can't give the body direction. So what sensations are normal? You might notice or feel the needle insertion. This could be a pinch or some discomfort for a few seconds and then it will go away. It is normal to feel heaviness, pressure, slight aching, itching, tingling, warm/cold, or twitching sensations. Some points have a stronger sensation that other points. Most patients find it helpful to differentiate between "pain/hurt" and "sensation." A lot of our interpretation is based on our mind's perception of the event... so if you think it's going to hurt it will likely be more uncomfortable. Let our providers/team know if you're feeling true pain or untolerable discomfort and we will make adjustments until you feel comfortable. Some tips for reducing discomfort during your treatment: - avoid caffeine before your appointment - make sure you have eaten a snack before coming in - continue to breathe during your treatment; holding your breath increases stress
How does acupuncture work? There are several ways to explain how and why acupuncture works. Science is just now starting to catch up to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and provide physiological explanations of how and why acupuncture works. Here is an overview of how acupuncture is believed to work: Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective: According to traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture aims to balance the flow of energy or life force known as "qi" (chee) that is believed to flow through pathways called meridians in the body. By inserting needles into specific points along these meridians, acupuncture practitioners believe they can rebalance the energy flow and promote healing. I think of qi as your body's cellular function - how well your cells are working and communicating through your body systems (nervous system, cardiovascular, fascial, digestive, etc). Neurological Stimulation: Many Western practitioners view acupuncture points as places to stimulate nerves, muscles, and connective tissue. The insertion of needles at these points is thought to stimulate the nervous system, which can trigger the release of natural painkillers in the body, such as endorphins. This can help alleviate pain and promote a sense of well-being. Central Nervous System Activation: Acupuncture points are believed to stimulate the central nervous system, which releases chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals can have various effects on the body, including pain relief and relaxation. Placebo Effect: Acupuncture may also have a placebo effect, where the belief in the treatment's effectiveness can lead to perceived improvements in symptoms. The ritual and therapeutic context of acupuncture may contribute to its perceived benefits. Even if it is only a placebo, if it works- who cares?! The mind is a powerful tool.
How many treatments will I need? More than one. Likely more than five. It's really hard to say. Yes, we recommend you come back regularly. Here's the thing... Acupuncture is not magic. Many of our new patients come in as a "last resort" after they've tried everything else and still haven't been able to find relief. Acupuncture works by encouraging your body to do it's own healing. This is not a drug or a surgery that will overhaul your system. When we're starting your treatments we have to break your body's pattern. Changing the function of your body takes energy (remember physics class- everything stays in it's current state unless acted upon by an outside force?). We have to apply effort in frequency over time which is a "dose" of treatment. The dose you require is going to depend on: longevity of your condition, your body's healing ability, lifestyle factors. You can expect a more frequent dose at the beginning of care (1-3x per week) until the body achieves balance in the acupuncture meridians. Once that is achieved we reduce treatment frequency until you've reached your goal. At your initial exam and consultation appointment you will be given a more thorough expectation of how much treatment you need for your condition. When you feel satisfied with your results we do recommend future maintenance visits to keep you as healthy as possible. We live stressful lives that are full of factors that will continue to cause imbalance in our lives (environment, emotions, food, stress, etc). Your health is like any other type of maintenance - it is easier and more cost effective to get a quick tune up than it is to put it off and need an overhaul when things become unbearable. Maintenance visits can be anywehre from 1x per month to 4 visits per year - depending on your body.