Acupuncture Q & A: Safe treatment for pain, anxiety, GI issues and more
August 17, 2017
Acupuncture is an alternative or complementary medicine that helps treat many conditions. It is most frequently used to treat pain, headaches, insomnia, emotional imbalances (e.g., anxiety, depression), respiratory ailments (e.g., asthma, allergies, sinusitis), gastrointestinal issues (e.g., IBS, constipation, diarrhea), infertility, smoking cessation and weight loss.
If you are like many who cringe at the sight of needles, Joanna Johnston, R.N., a Board-Certified Acupuncturist at Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH) Wellness Center, answers questions about acupuncture treatment to ease your worries and help you decide if it’s right for you.
Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is extremely safe — only sterile, one-time-use needles are used. After a treatment, it is possible to have minor soreness or bruising at the needle insertion sites.
How deep do the needles go?
The needle depth varies depending on location and what is being treated. Generally the needles are inserted approximately ¼- to ½-inch deep.
Is there anything to avoid before and after acupuncture treatment?
Avoid caffeine and alcohol immediately before and after receiving acupuncture. In general, on the day of an acupuncture treatment, it is best not to do too much (workout, have stressful appointments, etc.).
Does acupuncture treatment hurt?
Acupuncture does not hurt. There may be a quick “pinch” with some needle insertions, but it is not painful. Rather, acupuncture is very relaxing and most people fall asleep during treatment.
Do acupuncture needles have medicine in them?
Needles used for acupuncture are typically stainless-steel, disposable needles that do not have medicine in them. They are hair thin; much thinner than hypodermic needles used for injections.
How long does the treatment take?
An initial visit for acupuncture, including consultation and treatment, takes approximately 1½ hours. Subsequent visits are 30 to 60 minutes long. Acupuncture needles are left in place for 20 to 40 minutes.
Can you treat more than one condition at a time?
Oftentimes, multiple conditions are addressed at the same time.
Are there different styles of acupuncture? If so, which style do you perform?
There are many styles of acupuncture. I studied and practice Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM is the most common style and all acupuncture styles have TCM as their foundation. I also incorporate auricular (ear) therapy in my treatment plans.
How many sessions do you recommend?
Everyone responds to acupuncture differently, but the majority of people will experience results in one to three treatments. As a general rule, chronic conditions will take longer for results. I usually recommend weekly treatments for a month, and then decrease treatment to every other week for another few months. Patients often find it beneficial to receive “maintenance” acupuncture treatment every few months after they complete their initial treatment plan.