Lots of people are trying acupuncture and finding relief from all sorts of issues these days. You may have been curious about it, but still have not felt comfortable enough to give it a try. Here are some of the more common reasons why you may still be reluctant, and the truth behind them.
1) The Reason: I hate needles and think that the needles are similar to what I’ve already experienced
The Truth: As Americans, our first exposure to needles in relation to medicine involves blood draws and shots. Naturally, when people hear that acupuncture involves needles, this is what they automatically think of, but acupuncture needles are dramatically different than the hypodermic needles that we are used to.
As an experiment and a visual, I took a 21 ga hypodermic needle tip that I had on hand, which is the size that is most often used for typical blood draws, and fit as many of each of the most common 5 sizes of needle that I use in my clinic on a daily basis into the opening. You can see that I was able to fit between 3 and 9 needles, depending on the size. 90-95% of the needles that I use on a daily basis are 34 and 36 ga, with the 32 ga needles being used only on my largest, most solid-framed and least sensitive patients, and the 38 and 40 ga needles on those patients who are more prone to discomfort or on areas where the nerves are much more densely clustered, making them naturally more sensitive. I typically give patients a choice.
2)The Reason: I’m worried that acupuncture is painful
The Truth: Hands down, one of the first questions I get asked as an acupuncturist when introducing someone to acupuncture for the first time is “is it going to hurt?” Everyone is wired a bit differently, so people can have dramatically different ideas about what constitutes discomfort. While I would never try to claim that acupuncture is completely “sensationless,” for most people any discomfort is really minimal and overall it is generally quite painless. Some needle placements elicit no sensation or discomfort whatsoever, while others may be slightly uncomfortable for a brief moment when the needle is placed initially, but any discomfort then quickly fades into a mild “dull” or “heavy” sensation. In addition, any needles that may be slightly uncomfortable can be quickly adjusted so that they no longer cause any discomfort, or similarly, the needle gauge, location, angle, or depth can be adjusted to ensure maximum comfort during the treatment.
3)The Reason: I think or am worried that I have to believe in acupuncture or Qi for it to work
The Truth: There is no requirement to believe in anything at all for acupuncture treatment to be successful. While Chinese Medicine has historically had strong ties to some religious practices in China, the practice of Chinese Medicine is really just a pragmatic means of differentiating how the body is being affected by particular stresses and how it needs to be corrected. In the same way that you don’t have to think about your heart beating or breathing in order for your body to make these things happen, you don’t need to believe or be aware or anything in particular to experience the results that acupuncture can provide. In fact, many of the same systems responsible for keeping the many organs and structures of your body working correctly are the exact ones that are responsible for the benefits of acupuncture. The only thing that is required is to relax so the body has a chance to respond to the treatment and adjust things accordingly.
4)The Reason: I’m worried that acupuncture is expensive
The Truth: Acupuncture is typically not an expensive therapy. In many cases, a course of acupuncture may be far less expensive than the pain medications required to manage symptoms over the long term, but with the added benefit that there are no risks of dependency or side effects from acupuncture. An average course of acupuncture treatment that would typically manage many moderate pain or quality of life issues can fall far below the price tag of many types of therapy or pain management. In many cases, because acupuncture stimulates the body to heal on its own, any sort of continued care may not be necessary once adequate improvement has been made. Additionally, some insurance companies now offer plans that cover acupuncture services, which can further reduce the out of pocket costs.
5)The Reason: I’m already undergoing other types of treatments and am concerned that acupuncture will conflict with them
The Truth: Acupuncture is minimally invasive, and because it simply leverages your body’s own healing capacity in your favor, any conflicts with other therapies or medications are very rare. The goal of acupuncture is to help the body to optimally adapt to its current circumstances, whatever those circumstances may be, which includes any other interventions that may also currently be at play. I have found that in nearly all cases, acupuncture dovetails exceptionally well with chiropractic, massage, physical therapy, occupational therapy, counseling and many other types of therapies and can work to improve the outcomes of these therapies while also offering additional benefits beyond them because of it’s unique mechanism and approach to the body. Likewise, acupuncture can be extraordinarily helpful for moderating the side effects of pharmaceuticals and chemotherapy, and reducing some of the necessary soreness during muscle and joint rehabilitation in chiropractic and physical therapy regimens in order to speed up the progress.
So there you have it. Acupuncture is not so big and scary, and it can benefit your health and remove obstacles in lots of really great ways. So go ahead, give your local acupuncturist a call and try it out! If you’re located in the Greater Milwaukee or Brookfield, WI area and I’m so privileged to be your local acupuncturist, please click here to visit my main page.