What Happens During an Acupuncture Session

What Happens During an Acupuncture Session

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What Happens During an Acupuncture Session

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the insertion of very fine needles on the body’s surface, in order to influence physiological functioning of the body. 

Acupuncture restores internal functions and alleviate pain. This is a very relaxing and healing therapy. You will be amazed at the effectiveness of acupuncture.

nervous system, modulating chemical signals to and from the brain. The result can include suppression of pain signals through the nerves, increased immune response (white blood cell activation), increased blood circulation, and reduction of inflammatory cytokines.

What is an acupuncture treatment?

This is an opportunity to discover where & why your body is out of balance. You will complete an online health questionnaire prior to your appointment. Your practitioner will evaluate your presenting signs and symptoms to draw connections and diagnose any underlying patterns of disharmony. Often your acupuncturist will refine the diagnosis by feeling the pulses on your wrists and looking at your tongue. These diagnostic methods take many years of training and practice to master, and they can reveal a wealth of information about the internal functioning of your body.

During your treatment, you will rest comfortably on the treatment table while your acupuncturist applies very fine needles to the chosen acupoints. These needles are a fraction of the width of a human hair, and do not typically cause any discomfort.

Once your needles are comfortably placed, you will rest and enjoy relaxing music and other comforting sensations such as warmth from a Far Infrared heat lamp over your feet or back. Your practitioner will often use additional modalities such as massage therapy, cupping, moxibustion, and warm stones to enhance the effects of your treatment.

Your practitioner will explain all the modalities and services available to you at Acu-Na Wellness Center. Together, we will establish your personalized treatment plan which may include: acupuncture, massage therapy, energy healing modalities, herbal medicine, neuro-hormonal balancing, nutritional counseling and/or lifestyle modification guidance. You are welcome to explore any of our services so you can and find which approach best fits your needs.

Does acupuncture hurt?

No. Acupuncture needles are extremely thin and have no resemblance to the large hypodermic needles many people are afraid of. Acupuncture needles are made of a single filament of sterile stainless steel and are not hollow like an injection needle. When a needle is placed, most people feel little or no discomfort. The most common response is, “I didn’t even feel it!”

During your treatment, it is common and normal to feel interesting sensations such as heaviness, warmth, or slight pressure at the points. These energetic sensations are different from pain, and people often comment that the feeling is unfamiliar but pleasant and comforting.

Is it safe?

Yes. Acupuncture needles are FDA-approved, pre-sterilized and individually packaged, and are disposed of after a single use. Acupuncturists undergo extensive training (most commonly 4 years of graduate school) which includes clean needling technique to ensure safety. In-depth knowledge of anatomy and physiology allows acupuncturists to place needles safely and avoid underlying structures.

There are no side effects of acupuncture treatment. Occasionally, you may get a tiny bruise at a needle site, but actual adverse reactions are exceedingly rare and have never been seen in our clinical experience. Adverse effects are more often associated with undertrained practitioners such as physical therapists using acupuncture needles to perform dry needling, which has been known to cause pneumothorax (punctured lung). Read below to understand the difference between acupuncture and dry needling.

Is acupuncture the same as dry needling?

No. Dry needling involves the use of acupuncture needles, but they are used in a much different way and by a different type of practitioner. Dry needling is typically performed by physical therapists, while acupuncture is performed by licensed acupuncturists. The difference is the length of training and the goal of treatment.

Training: Dry needling practitioners typically train for one or two weekends in a continuing education course. There is no separate dry needling certification required, which means that the practice cannot be regulated for safety and ethics. In contrast, acupuncturists typically train for 4 years of full-time graduate school including 2 years of clinical internship under the supervision of licensed acupuncturists. After graduation, acupuncturists must pass a series of 5 national board exams to obtain certification with the NCCAOM (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine), as well as apply for state licensure. This rigorous education and licensing process ensures that you receive the best professional care and can trust your acupuncturist to be professional, knowledgeable, and trained in safety protocols.

Goal of Treatment: Dry needling stimulates trigger points in order to break up muscle adhesions. Typically the treatments involve aggressive needle manipulation that can be painful to some patients. 

Acupuncture also addresses muscle tension, and may even use the same trigger points. However the approach is usually more gentle because we can use the internal medicine aspect of acupuncture to heal the nervous system simultaneously. This increases the effectiveness of treatment while allowing for more comfort and a long-lasting result due to healing the underlying cause of the muscle restriction.

What should I expect after acupuncture treatment?

Every individual responds differently, but it is common to experience complete or partial relief of pain or other symptoms immediately following the first treatment. Some patients experience a burst of vibrant energy while others may feel sedated and relaxed. Many people experience a sense of calm and peace. Results can last for hours, days, or weeks, depending on what we are treating and how your body responds. Conditions that typically improve immediately include pain, headaches, irritability, and anxiety. Some chronic conditions tend to require more time for healing, including dermatological and digestive complaints. Your practitioner will guide you regarding what to expect for your specific case.

What can acupuncture treat?

  • General pain relief and control for arthritis, knee pain, hand and foot pain, sciatica, shoulder pain, tennis elbow, lower back and neck pain, tendonitis, etc.
  • Circulatory problems with high or low blood pressure, cold hands and feet.
  • Neuro-endocrine imbalances can also be treated such as anxiety, nervousness, menopause, hot flashes, sleeplessness, depression and asthma.
  • Immune deficiencies such as allergies and sinus problems.
  • Digestive disorders like Crohn’s Disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, diarrhea, and constipation.
  • Other common elements treated include headaches and migraines; treatments to help stop smoking, and many more conditions.

How many sessions will I need and how often should I be treated?

The effect of acupuncture is cumulative. That is, each treatment builds upon the results of the previous treatment in order to achieve progressive improvement. Therefore, long delays between treatments can cause your progress to stall. Generally we recommend starting with one treatment per week for 4-6 sessions, at which point we will be able to gauge your progress and re-evaluate the treatment plan.  Acute or severe conditions (such as injury or extreme pain) require more frequency but may respond more quickly to treatment, whereas chronic conditions can be treated with less frequency for longer periods of time.

As progress is achieved and symptoms are alleviated, treatment frequency can be reduced to a maintenance schedule. Many people choose to come in biweekly or monthly even after their original complaint has been resolved–this is because acupuncture treatment is enjoyable and helps you feel a sense of wellbeing even if you have no specific complaints.

Naturally, the greatest success comes to those who are motivated and committed to a full progression of treatment. We work with each patient to design a treatment strategy that will produce results and fit your budget. We will never try to pressure you into spending money on treatments you don’t need. We are here to serve you, not to treat you as a commodity. You can trust us to have your best interest at heart and guide you based on our professional clinical experience.

Will it conflict with my other medical care?

Acupuncture is meant to complement and supplement (not replace) your regular medical care with your physician. It will not interfere with medications, surgeries, or other medical interventions as it is a gentle holistic approach. In fact, many doctors recommend acupuncture treatment before or after surgeries to improve outcomes. Your acupuncturist will also carefully consider your medical history and prescription medications when creating your treatment plan and before prescribing any herbal medicines or supplements. We can work together alongside your physician to create your comprehensive care plan.


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