Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years. It involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate the flow of energy and promote healing. Acupuncture can be used to treat a variety of conditions, such as pain, stress, anxiety, insomnia, allergies, and more. But does acupuncture hurt? This is a common question that many people have before trying acupuncture for the first time. In this article, we will explain what acupuncture feels like, what to expect during and after a session, and how to find a qualified acupuncturist.
Does Acupuncture Hurt?
One of the biggest misconceptions about acupuncture is that it is painful. However, most people who have experienced acupuncture report that it is not as bad as they expected, and some even find it relaxing. Acupuncture needles are very thin and flexible, much smaller than the needles used for injections or blood draws. They are inserted gently and shallowly into the skin, usually no more than a few millimeters. The sensation of acupuncture varies from person to person, depending on their sensitivity and the location of the needles. Some common feelings that people describe are:
- A slight pinch or prick when the needle is inserted
- A dull ache, heaviness, or pressure around the needle
- A tingling, warmth, or electric sensation along the meridian (the energy pathway)
- A feeling of relaxation, calmness, or drowsiness
These sensations are normal and indicate that the acupuncture is working. They are not signs of pain or discomfort. In fact, acupuncture is designed to relieve pain by stimulating the release of endorphins, the natural painkillers of the body. These are considered to be positive responses, and it means that something is happening.”
What to Expect During and After an Acupuncture Session
If you are interested in trying acupuncture, you may wonder what to expect during and after a session. Here are some general guidelines to help you prepare and get the most out of your treatment.
Before the Session
Before your first acupuncture session, you will need to find a qualified and experienced acupuncturist. You can ask your doctor for a referral, or search online for reviews and recommendations. You can also check the credentials and certifications of the acupuncturist, such as the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) or the American Board of Medical Acupuncture (ABMA). You should also make sure that the acupuncturist uses sterile, disposable needles and follows proper hygiene and safety protocols.
Once you have chosen an acupuncturist, you will need to fill out a health history form and answer some questions about your condition and goals. The acupuncturist will also examine your tongue, pulse, and other physical signs to determine your diagnosis and treatment plan. The acupuncturist will explain the procedure and answer any questions or concerns you may have.
To prepare for your session, you should wear loose and comfortable clothing that allows easy access to the areas that will be treated. You should also avoid eating a large meal or drinking alcohol before the session, as this may affect your energy and blood flow. You should also avoid caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulants, as they may interfere with the relaxation effect of acupuncture.
During the Session
During the session, you will lie down on a padded table or a reclining chair. The acupuncturist will insert the needles into the selected points, usually on your arms, legs, back, or abdomen. The number and location of the needles will depend on your condition and the style of acupuncture. The acupuncturist may also manipulate the needles by twisting, flicking, or moving them slightly to enhance the stimulation. Sometimes, the acupuncturist may also apply heat, electricity, or pressure to the needles or the points.
The needles will remain in place for about 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the treatment. During this time, you should relax and breathe deeply. You may feel some sensations from the needles, but they should not be painful or uncomfortable. If you do feel any discomfort, you should let the acupuncturist know so they can adjust the needles or remove them. You may also listen to soothing music, meditate, or nap while the needles are in place.
After the Session
After the session, the acupuncturist will remove the needles and dispose of them safely. You may feel some mild soreness, bruising, or bleeding at the needle sites, but this is normal and should subside quickly. You may also feel relaxed, refreshed, or energized after the session, depending on your response. You should drink plenty of water and rest after the session, as this will help your body to heal and balance. You should also avoid strenuous activities, alcohol, and spicy foods for a few hours after the session, as they may affect your energy and blood flow.
The effects of acupuncture may vary from person to person, and may take some time to manifest. Some people may notice immediate relief or improvement, while others may need several sessions to see results. The acupuncturist will advise you on how often and how long you should receive acupuncture, based on your condition and progress. A typical course of acupuncture may consist of six to eight sessions, with one or two sessions per week. However, this may vary depending on your individual needs and preferences.
Is Acupuncture for You?
Acupuncture is a safe and effective therapy that can help you with various health issues, such as pain, stress, anxiety, insomnia, allergies, and more. Acupuncture does not hurt, but rather stimulates the natural healing and balancing mechanisms of your body. Acupuncture may cause some sensations, such as a slight pinch, a dull ache, or a tingling feeling, but they are not signs of pain or discomfort. Acupuncture may also help you relax and improve your mood and well-being. If you are interested in trying acupuncture, you should find a qualified and experienced acupuncturist who can tailor the treatment to your specific needs and goals. You should also follow the guidelines before, during, and after the session to get the most out of your acupuncture experience.