The Most Common Questions on Acupuncture!
Being someone deeply immersed in acupuncture it’s easy to forget that most people don’t know anything about acupuncture at all. So I asked a number of people what their biggest questions about it were and here are the answers.
What do the needles look like and how big are they?
Acupuncture needles are nothing like the needles you see when you have an injection or a blood test. A blood-taking needles is usually around 1-1.5mm in diameter. An acupuncture needles can be 0.14-0.25mm, more like the width of a human hair! Crucially, acupuncture needles are solid not hollow like blood-taking/injection needles, meaning they don’t dig a hole in you, so in many cases, are painless.
Does it hurt?
Many people don’t even feel the needles going in! Some patients are more sensitive so we have different gauges, or widths of needle with super thin ones for the super-sensitive! If we are needling into a very tight muscle it can cause the muscle to twitch which is more strange then painful. Some people report a feeling of heaviness or a dull ache around some of the needles. For most, acupuncture is painless and many people fall asleep during treatment as it’s so relaxing!
How does it work?
In brief, acupuncture re-sets your body to support it to heal itself. The ancient Chinese spoke about it in terms of unblocking or moving Qi, or energy in the body. We now know that acupuncture stimulates many of the base-line chemical processes in your body to do with pain-relief, your own anti-inflammatory response and feel-good hormones. In other words, it’s a bit like a re-set button. It also increases blood flow into areas such as tight muscles, or the uterus/ovaries. Bringing more blood flow brings more oxygen and supports the start of the healing processes that need to happen.
Apart from sore backs what does it help?
Many, many problems. Professional acupuncturists are trained to look at the whole person. So if you come in with a sore knee, we also ask about your stress levels, your digestion etc as how your whole body and your emotions are doing is impacts directly on your ability to heal. Acupuncturists commonly see people with all sorts of stress related problems, mystery aches and pains that don’t seem to respond to anything else, people who just don’t feel well, as well as named conditions. We support people with the symptoms of ongoing chronic medical conditions. We see people with digestive problems, hormone issues, pain problems, emotional issues, coping after bereavement, the list goes on. A recent review of many clinical trials found evidence of effectiveness for 117 conditions.
Is it safe?
In the right hands, it’s safe. Professional acupuncturists like Marianne and Tony have spent three years full time study before qualifying, that’s 3600 hours of training. As acupuncture is not regulated in the UK there are some very short courses out there, some just a number of weekends. ALWAYS ask about level of training and membership of regulatory bodies such as the British Acupuncture Council.
Do I need to take my clothes off?
Not all of them!! We try to protect patient modesty as far as possible. For a back/shoulder treatment we may need you to be down to your underwear but use towels to cover you. If this is something you are worried about talk to us first. We do everything we can to make you feel comfortable and at ease. For many of our treatments people remain fully dressed apart from their socks and shoes, they may roll up their trousers, or lift their top so we can access their abdomen if needed.
I haven’t shaved my legs, does it matter?
Not at all! We are not remotely fussed if you have or haven’t shaved or waxed your legs! It makes no difference to treatment and we are not judging you!
My underwear isn’t matching!
We really don’t worry about such things. Please don’t feel you have to go to special effort to wear matching undies if it’s not what you normally do!
So as you can see acupuncture is good for your whole body, helps many problems and most acupuncturists are a friendly and helpful and want to put you at ease so you get the most from your treatments. We love helping people feel better, it’s what makes our day.