Acupuncture involves stimulating points on the body, by inserting thin needles that are manipulated by hand or sometimes by electrical stimulation. By stimulating specific anatomic sites, also called acupuncture points, acupuncture can promote self-healing.
In traditional Chinese medicine, diseases are caused by the disruption of energy in the body, and acupuncture is meant to help release that flow. Western medicine offers another explanation: the needles stimulate the nerves, which modulate pain and promote natural healing mechanisms.
Initially, acupuncture was incorporated into Western medicine as a way to reduce pain such as back and knee pain or headaches. But recent studies suggest that acupuncture can be used to treat a variety of issues, including gut health, poor sleep, pelvic dysfunction, infertility, gut health, and stress.
Contrary to popular belief, acupuncture does NOT hurt! Acupuncture needles aren’t anything like needles that are used for immunizations or for drawing blood. Acupuncture providers often describe the needles as hair-thin, stainless steel and disposable. While you may feel some sensation as the needles are inserted, it’s not described as painful.
Some sensations you may feel have been described as:
- Heavy—as if a weight is being placed on the area, but is perceived as calming, not oppressive.
- Achy—an initial achiness at the site of the needle, which typically dissipates in seconds.
- Electric—a quickly disappearing jolt related to the location of an acupuncture pressure point and the nerve that lies underneath it.
- Tingly—acupuncture points can cause tingling at the site and through the body.
- Warm—a pleasant feeling that spreads around the acupuncture point.
The bottom line is that while acupuncture can cause some unusual sensations, it shouldn’t hurt. If it does, let your acupuncturist know right away so the needles can be adjusted.
When acupuncture is done correctly by a licensed practitioner, the risks are very low. Saying that, adverse events do occur, which is why your acupuncture provider will discuss with you what the pros and cons of receiving acupuncture.
The most common adverse effects of acupuncture include bleeding and bruising at the site of the acupuncture needle, as well as some soreness in the area post treatment. More rare but serious adverse effects include infections, punctured organs, collapsed lungs and fetal distress.
Our acupuncture providers have spent countless hours practicing their skill so that you can feel confident that although possible, serious adverse effects are HIGHLY unlikely to occur. Our clients are important to us and we do not allow for negligence.