Wanna know the #1 question I get asked when people find out I'm an acupuncturist?
"Does it hurt?"
OK, I get it. I say "needle" and the first thing that pops into your head is "pain." But acupuncture is known to treat pain, not cause it!
The simplest answer to your question is, "No." In fact, many of my patients fall into such a deep state of relaxation that they will often fall asleep on my massage table. A handful of them even snore! The rest of them get so zoned out during treatments, they get up afterward and feel like they've been at a Grateful Dead concert for way too long. Yep, they're acu-stoned.
Acupuncture treats pain - not causes it!
But wait, are you thinking "How can anyone sleep with needles in them!?"
Well, pretty easily it turns out. The sterile, disposable, stainless steel needles (or "pins" as some of my needle-phobic patients like to call them) are as thin as a dog's whisker and generally feel like a tiny mosquito bite when they puncture the skin. The needles I use have a tiny droplet of silicone on the tip so that the needle actually glides between the skin cells instead of puncturing them. They really are the most comfortable acupuncture needles on the market.
Acupuncture needles are as thin as a hair and are basically painless.
I usually tell my patients that once the needles are in place, they might feel a variety of sensations: tingling, heaviness, warmth, etc. Some patients don't feel much at all and barely realize when I've started with the first needle. I always let them know that if they have any discomfort at any time during the treatment, never hesitate to let me know - I'll always adjust or remove the needle in question.
"What if I just can't do it? I'm too afraid of needles?"
Are you one of those people who has a zillion tattoos but is still totally freaked out by needles? (Seriously, I swear half my patients are covered in tattoos but still can't handle the thought of needles!) Well, have no fear because fire-cupping, and reiki, and essential oils, and health coaching (and on and on and on) are all here! One of the wonderful things about acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine is that it uses a wide variety of methods (we call them modalities) to help bring about health and healing. Obviously, while acupuncture needling is the most well-known traditional Chinese medicine modality, I have a lot of other tools in my toolbox and can always work with you to find the right form of therapy to help you get better.
Fire-cupping is a great alternative to acupuncture and most people compare it to a deep tissue massage.
But that's not my only other option. I often incorporate non-Chinese medicine forms of energy healing in my treatments as well, such as: essential oils, reiki, tuning forks, singing bowls, and guided meditation.
And don't even get me started on the herbs!
Chinese herbal medicine is what go me interested in acupuncture in the first place and will always hold a special place in my heart. Plus, herbs are strong medicine! While acupuncture can produce quick and powerful effects, herbs are great for extending that effect between appointments - allowing the benefits of acupuncture to "hold" until the next session, while also addressing the root of the imbalance.
Food is medicine too.
Just as herbs were originally eaten in their whole form, food has a place in our medicinal toolbox too. Even a small change to the diet can bring about a large impact on our health. Just like Hippocrates said, "Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food."
So, the long answer to the short question of "Does acupuncture hurt?" ends up being : No, but if you really are too freaked out to try it, no biggie. Healing help is still available if you want it.
I want to hear what you think. Have you had acupuncture before? What did it feel like to you? Let me know below in the comments!