DOES ACUPUNCTURE HURT?
Acupuncture feels completely different from an injection. Sometimes a patient hardly feels the needles. Sometimes he may experience a brief stinging sensation during treatment. Even small hypodermic needles are very different from acupuncture needles. They are wide and hollow, while acupuncture needles are fine and thin.
Because they are hollow, hypodermics leave a noticeable hole which usually bleeds for a while, requiring a band-aid. They usually leave a bruise. Acupuncture needles are not hollow, and are manufactured from the finest gauge surgical steel. They are made as thin as they can be without bending when they are inserted.
Acupuncture points are located on almost every part of the body. Treatment on some points will be barely noticeable, while on other points a person may experience some brief pinching sensation as the needles are inserted. Once the needles are in place one occasionally feels a slight aching or perhaps a tingling sensation, which fades quickly.
I use the feather needling technique, which was developed by professor JR Worsley. This technique greatly reduces the depth of insertion, the amount of time needles are in place, and the amount of needle manipulation. Thus discomfort is minimized
Once removed, acupuncture needles leave no visible trace, and rarely bruise. Patients typically find that the benefits of treatment and the relief of symptoms far outweigh the brief discomfort that they sometimes feel during treatment. When you think of them as “healing needles” you can focus on their long term heating effect and let go of any concern about whatever brief sensations you may experience.
WHAT ABOUT THE RISK OF INFECTION?
In the United States at this time acupuncturists are using disposable needles, which come pre-packaged in sterile containers. Each patient receives treatment with new needles each time they come in. I never use the same media for two different treatments, not even on the same person!
The Center for Disease Control has established protocols for the safe use of acupuncture needles. In order to be nationally certified, an acupuncturist must undergo thorough training and rigorous examination in clean needle technique. The proper procedures are simple and easy to follow. Then has ban little or no significant damage reported from using acupuncture needles.
DOES IT REALLY WORK?
Recently NIH chose acupuncture as one of the most important fields of alternative medicine to study. They researched its effectiveness in treating conditions such as pain, depression and nausea after chemotherapy, fibromyalgia, menstrual cramps and headaches. Studies confirmed its efficacy for these conditions, and many other areas are being researched.
Starting in 1992 the Traditional Aarpuncture Institute in Columbia, MD. hired Glare Cassidy PhD, a respected medical anthropologist, to conduct a study of what patients are getting out of acupuncture. 575 people participated in the nsearch, and almost all of them reported that acupuncture helps them to feel and function better.
· 91,5% reported “disappearance” or “improvement” of symptoms after acupuncture treatment.
· 84% said they see their MD’s less.
· 79% said they use fewer prescription drugs.
· 70% of those to whom surgery had been recommended said they avoided it. These were not minor surgeries.
· 58.5% said that they were seeing a psychotherapist less.
· 57% said that their improvement was “definitely” due to acupuncture.
. 19.9% said that it was “probably” acupuncture.
· 17.5% said it was a “combination of factors”.
· 7.8 percent named symptoms or conditions that had not changed.
· 0.7% (seven reports) said that symptoms or complaints were worse
than before treatment.
In their own words patients participating in the study said that acupuncture care:
· relieves physical pain, and releases/relieves painful emotions
· decreases the intensity and duration of many symptoms
· helps them to reduce use of prescription drugs
· helps them to heal faster, as from surgery
· protects users from “colds” · increases energy
· makes them feel calm, peaceful… or “centered,” “balanced”
· increases self-awareness
· allows them to perform psychosocial tasks that were formerly too
difficult to “cope with stress”
· makes them feel “connected” or “integrated”, or “whole”, and enhances a feeling that they call “well-being”
Patients were encouraged by the questionnaire to tell about “bad experiences” with acupuncture care. Most expressions of dissatisfaction arose from the fact that acupuncture was not covered by insurance, so people found the care “costly”. However since the study was done many insurance companies have begun to include acupuncture in their coverage. Many of my patients use their insurance, and we can work out a payment plan if you are not covered by insurance, and need an alternate arrangement.
IS ACUPUNCTURE WORTH TRYING IF I DON’T HAVE A CONDITION WHICH IS MAKING ME DESPERATE
Acupuncture works by bringing a person’s unique patterns of energy back into balance and harmony regardless of how severe the symptoms may be. While acupuncture can be very beneficial for many severe conditions, people who are relatively healthy usually have minor symptoms which also respond well to acupuncture. Many people enjoy the improved vitality, health, and the sense of inner balance that they feel as a result of acupuncture, even though they do not have specific medical complaints.
Acupuncture can be used to balance a person’s specific constitutional strengths and, weaknesses, creating better health and quality of life. For instance, a person’s constitutional type might give him a strong ability to identify problems and work out solutions. However the same way of thinking (which arises from his constitutional type) Can cause him to worry excessively and take on more than he can handle. Such a person might have no physical problems and appear to have a very good life. However the pattern of worrying may detract from his satisfaction with his accomplishments He may worry so much about other things that he fails to meet his own needs, creating an imbalance within himself which will eventually lead to physical problems. In this case the person might end up with digestive disorders weight problems, prolapsed organs, or a general lack of energy.
Acupuncture can help to restore the balance, supporting a person in letting go of worry and reaping a harvest of renewed energy and satisfaction In our culture, people worry alot, or just think too much. If you find that you can’t slow your mind down, that is a condition that acupuncture can help, without any medication Acupuncture can help you create a sense of mental calm, balance and peacefulness because when energy is flowing smoothly through the channels the mind is naturally relaxed.
‘WHAT CAN ACUPUNCTURE HELP BESIDES PHYSICAL ACHES AND PAINS?
In the West, we are only beginning to recognize the close connection between physical, emotional, and mental suffering. Medical doctors tend to brush off the “placebo effect” as a troublesome interference which keeps them from accurately determining what prescribed medications are doing. But Behavioral Medicine, which recognizes the mind/body connection, is being used in more and more open minded clinics and hospitals.
In the East, the understanding that physical problems have their origins from distress of mind and spirit has always been a cornerstone of medical philosophy. External factors certainly effect health, but susceptibility to infection and disease often arises from disharmony at the deeper levels of our being. A well designed acupuncture treatment will always give a person’s me~tal and emotional st~te at least as much consideration as their physical complaints.
Not only can acupuncture help to heal the emotional and spiritual distress that underlies physical symptoms, it can also help resolve emotional problems. It is therefore being used in conjunction with psychological treatment for many psychological conditions. Traumatic e~q~eri~nces in the past can distort and block the flow ofa person’s ~energy so much that she becomes stuck in patterns of depression or aturiety. Acupuncture can free up a person’s emotional energy, releasing it from the patterns where it has been stuck. She can move more effectively through and heal old hurts, creating new attitudes for the future. Acupuncturists and psychologists can work as a team to facilitate emotional health and well-being.
healing process in these complex cases. It takes time for the person’s “knots” to unravel. Quick fixes may bring relief but usually not for long. The distorted patterns will return unless the underlying disharmonies are thoroughly rooted out.
DOESN’T ACUPUNCTURE ACTUALLY WORK BY RELEASING ENDORPHINS?
Endorphins are the body’s natural pain killers. When they are released we feel good. Certain activities such as exercise and relaxation make us feel good by releasing endorphins. While acupuncture may help us feel good, releasing endorphins is not the primary reason for this.
In Chinese Medicine health and well being depend upon the free flowing of the life energy, or Chi throughout our body systems. When our energy is out of balance, depleted, or overloaded we become sick. Acupuncture restores the balanced flow of energy, thus reducing pain and restoring health. While we may feel good after a single treatment because the energy is flowing more freely around the body, a sustained sense of well being is more likely to result from the cumulative effect of several treatments reestablishing balance and harmony throughout all our physical and emotional systems.
Talk to our doctors if you have more questions about acupuncture.