5 Commonly Asked Questions About Acupuncture
By Jill Truscott, Registered Acupuncturist at Local Health Integrative Clinic
1) “Does acupuncture hurt?”
I hear this question in clinic very often! One of the big misconceptions about acupuncture, is that because there are needles involved, it must hurt. However, acupuncture is practically painless! The needles we use are hair-thin – and first time patients will often express their surprise when they realize how different acupuncture feels to what they expected.
During the first treatment, I explain to patients that they may feel a sensation which we call the “De Qi” sensation – the arrival of energy to the point, or the needling response. The sensations a patient can experience with the needles may be numbness, tingling, distension, heaviness, warmth, or a radiating feeling. All of these sensations are considered desirable sensations in terms of the treatment – often they show us that we’ve achieved the response we want from the body. Any sensations tend to dissipate within a few seconds, leaving the patient in a very calm state – so much so they often fall asleep! Most people who come in, even those who are scared of needles, find that acupuncture is a comfortable, relaxing, and enjoyable experience.
2) “Is there anything I should do before or after an acupuncture treatment?”
Before treatment, I like to tell patients to have something light to eat, so they are neither too full or too hungry. Having acupuncture on an empty stomach could make you feel lightheaded or fatigued after, so it’s best to eat within a few hours before your treatment.
Try to plan your appointment so that you avoid doing anything too stressful or strenuous afterwards, we encourage patients to take it as easy as possible after treatment. This time is for you and your body to relax and heal, and it’s important to carry that forwards throughout the rest of your day! After your treatment, patients tend to feel what we called “Acu-dazed”, or more jokingly “Acu-stoned” – a blissful state of deep relaxation or euphoria, and many people find that this also results in them having a wonderful sleep that night! Use this post-treatment daze to take an enjoyable walk, a warm bath, or simply rest to allow your body to fully absorb the physical and emotional healing that acupuncture has set in motion.
It is also important to drink plenty of water and eat a healthy, well balanced meal following acupuncture treatment. Remember that food is medicine for your body, and try to follow the advice given to you during your treatment regarding which foods will help nourish and promote healing.
3) How many acupuncture sessions will I require?
This can be a difficult question to answer, as there is no “one size fits all” in acupuncture. With each patient, I will come up with a unique, individual, and holistic treatment plan based on your symptoms and health history.
For a loose guideline based on my own clinical experience, patients with acute conditions (something severe and sudden in onset) may only require 3-6 treatments to heal, whereas chronic conditions (long-developing symptoms) may take longer. I tend to find that many patients find that acupuncture benefits them in someway almost immediately, and many feel things such as reduction in pain, stress-relief, increased energy, and better sleep after only a few treatments! It is important to note that every person is different, and acupuncture is such a great medicine as it takes this into consideration.
To take the most out of your treatments, try your best to follow the treatment plan given to you. The benefits of acupuncture will accumulate when treatments are done more frequently – such as once to twice a week for the first few weeks. This will lead to longer lasting results and patients will find that they experience relief of their symptoms more quickly. After we start seeing positive results, treatments can then be more spaced apart.
4) Will my insurance cover acupuncture?
Acupuncture is covered to a certain amount by most extended health care plans in BC, and I encourage patients to check with their insurance providers to determine what their coverage is. To make things easier for our patients, we offer direct billing to most extended health care plans from our clinic (please ask us about your insurance provider). All you need to do is bring your extended health care card or information with you to your first treatment, and we will directly bill the insurance company for the treatment, or the portion of the treatment which is covered.
5) What conditions does acupuncture treat?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes a wide variety of diseases and disorders for which acupuncture has been proven to be effective through controlled clinical trials. These studies have shown acupuncture to successfully treat a range of conditions, from musculoskeletal problems (back pain, neck pain, arthritis, tendonitis, and others) to digestive problems, migraine headaches, anxiety, depression, insomnia, allergies, asthma, women’s health issues, infertility, skin conditions, smoking and addiction, high blood pressure, respiratory disorders, and more!
For more information on what acupuncture can treat, check out our previous blog post: https://localhealthco.com//2017/06/what-can-acupuncture-treat/