Acupuncture FAQ

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one of the oldest and most commonly used medical procedures in the world, which dates over 2500 years ago in China. It involves inserting sterile hair-thin needles through the skin into specific “acupoints”. These acupoints are located throughout the body within a network of meridians, or channels of energy flow. Acupoints are stimulated to get desired effects by the acupuncturist or through electrical stimulation.

How does it work?

Acupuncture has a positive physiological effect on the body in many ways. Acupuncture stimulates the central nervous system to release chemicals that dull pain, boost the immune system, and regulate body function. It also stimulates the brain to release serotonin and endorphins, which reduce the stress response and emotional complaints. Acupuncture improves blood circulation and provides nourishment to nerves and muscles for an increased healing response. Thermal imaging shows that acupuncture treatments make inflammation subside. Last, but certainly not least, acupuncture treatments reduce activity in the limbic system, otherwise known as the “emotional brain,” and activate areas of the brain associated with rest and recuperation. The World Health Organization endorses acupuncture as a highly effective treatment for over forty-two different pathologies.

Does it hurt?

Generally acupuncture produces no pain beyond a slight poke during the needle insertion. Once the needles are in place, there are sensations such as mild tingling, slight numbness, minimal aching and slight electrical pulsations. After the treatment, most people feel energized or experience a deep feeling of relaxation and well being.

How long does it take?

An initial evaluation and treatment will take 1.5 hrs, while follow up appointments last around an hour.

How many acupuncture treatments should I do?

The number of treatments depends on several factors: general health of the patient, severity of the condition as well as type and duration of the condition. In general, one can expect between 4-6 treatments, to get adequate relief. Although most people find benefits after the first treatment, they usually need more to obtain lasting results.

What to Expect After Acupuncture 

Why do I feel so mellow and spacey?  How long will it last?

Acupuncture stimulates the brain to release serotonin and endorphins- stress-reducing and calming chemicals.  Acupuncture also reduces activity in the limbic system, the emotional brain, and increases activity in the area of the brain associated with rest and recuperation.  For these reasons acupuncture is so effective at combating stress, regulating emotions, and speeding up the physical healing process.  This “spacey” feeling may last a varying amount of time, but typically wears off within a couple of hours.  However, the benefits of the treatment in terms of pain relief, healing, and improved emotional state may last much longer.

I slept really well after my treatment.  Is that a normal side effect?

Yes, it is.  A recent study at the Osher Institute of Harvard University found that acupuncture treatments stimulate the brain to release more melatonin at night.  For this reason, acupuncture is an effective treatment for insomnia and other sleep issues.

I feel a little bit sore in certain places, like after having a massage or workout.  Is that okay?

This is not necessarily what happens in a majority of patients, but it does happen from time to time and is not considered abnormal. Like with massage, this feeling should wear off within a day or so.  Drinking extra water may help.  Also, you may on occasion have a small bruise around a site where a needle was inserted.  Apply ice for at least 10 minutes in this case.

I don’t notice any changes.  Does that mean acupuncture isn’t working?

No.  Patients respond at different rates and noticeable differences in symptoms are not necessarily going to occur with one treatment.  Patients typically experience improvement anywhere between 1 and 4 sessions.  We will do our best to get an optimal result as quickly as possible, but it is reasonable to expect at least 2 or 3 sessions before an observable improvement.

Remember to:

  • Drink Extra Water.  Not soda, tea, or Gatorade — water!
  • Do not engage in strenuous physical activity ideally within 24 hours of treatment.
  • If you are a patient receiving treatment for a pain condition, please try to avoid performing activity that aggravates your complaint.  This will slow down the healing process.
  • If you have ANY questions, doubts, or concerns about symptoms occurring post treatment, do not hesitate to contact us 513-321-8484.