This is the most asked question about acupuncture and for obvious reasons. Who wants to have a treatment that hurts? Here is my best and honest answer.
No, it shouldn’t hurt if done well by an experienced practitioner. All you should feel is a tiny prick at most.
If – and very occasionally it happens – if a point hurts it means the needle must be removed and re-positioned. I don’t believe that acupuncture should hurt.
After the needle is in we often give it a little turn to activate the energy flow. At this moment you might feel a tingling, or a heaviness or a pressure on the point.
But definitely not pain. Please don’t feel you have to tolerate pain.
2. It’s not a magic wand
Many times I felt that something magical was going on when I needled a point and the client felt a big change happening.
A ‘Wow” moment.
As if something that has been stuck and unmoveable for years, shifts position and the person feels lighter and better for it.
But it is important to know that acupuncture can’t wave a magic wand and cure old patterns of illness just in one treatment. Most people come for a series of sessions, perhaps once a week to start with. It is more like gardening than a TV makeover.
Things change and sometimes quickly but it is subtle and the body needs time to heal in a deep way. We need to be patient and trust the body’s wisdom.
3. It’s not just for pain
Acupuncture became famous for helping to shift stubborn pain. It is incredibly effective in treating back pain and sciatica, arthritis and frozen shoulder. But many people don’t know that acupuncture is used for many other problems.
Physical symptoms are usually what bring people to the clinic but acupuncture also helps with depression, insomnia, anxiety, or simply a feeling that you have lost your way in life.
People often ask me how I got into acupuncture and the truth is that I went along for help with asthma but what happened changed my life. I felt like I had woken up to myself. I started to make plans for my life that had never occurred to me before.
Acupuncture helped me be more me!
4. It is best to go to a fully qualified acupuncturist
There are other practitioners who use acupuncture needles in their work but who are not acupuncturists. Many of them do good and using needles is a helpful extra tool. However, acupuncturists who have done a full training of three years or more have a much deeper understanding of what Chinese Medicine really has to offer. When a non-acupuncturist offers acupuncture as an adjunct to other treatment it may be called ‘dry needling’. If you are feeling brave ask them how long they trained for. I am afraid that often the answer will be that they went on a weekend course.
If acupuncture in this situation doesn’t work, don’t let it put you off finding a properly trained professional acupuncturist.
5. Lots of side effects – or benefits!
One of the things that surprises people when they start treatment is how different they feel ‘in themselves’. The symptom they came with may be changing or has gone away but what really amazes them is how much better they feel in general.
“I am sleeping better and am more relaxed”
“I feel so happy – I’d forgotten what that was like”
“I’m much more focused at work – it’s easy to make decisions”
“I feel like the old Me again”
Sometimes it is partners and friends who comment “you seem so well now”
If you want to try acupuncture or to talk about whether it could help you then please do contact me by phone or email. You can find my details on the right of this page.
Have you ever had acupuncture treatment? Tell us in the comments what it was like for you.