Patients are always asking questions during an acupuncture treatment and I continually encourage them to ask more. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions.
1) What Am I Supposed To Feel?
As the patient you will likely feel some pressure in the local area where the needle is being inserted. You may also feel a warm sensation or muscle fasciculation (twitch), which may radiate to another part of the body. All of these sensations usually dissipate quickly, however it’s ok if you still feel some slight pressure in the local area. Most patients usually say, “That’s it. Really? That’s what it feels like? Well that didn’t hurt at all. Whenever I think about a needle, I think about getting a vaccination or having my blood taken, but this was nothing like that at all.” If the needle does happen to feel sharp just tell your acupuncturist so they can adjust it. On the contrary, if you don’t feel anything at all you may think this is a good thing, however it is important to feel something. Your acupuncturist should adjust the point so that you feel SOMETHING to receive the greatest benefit from your treatment.
2) How Do You Know When The Needle Is In The Right Spot?
This relates to the question above. It takes a lot of precision to get an acupuncture needle in the “right” spot. I use quotations with this word because I don’t like to say that there is a wrong spot, however some locations will produce a better response than others. We are not just randomly sticking needles in patients. If the point location is off by as much as half a centimeter the sensation felt can be completely different. As acupuncturists we are looking for a very specific response such as a fasciculation of the muscle, a slight resistance or pressure. A good acupuncturist should get the “right” response with every needle otherwise they likely will not be content with the treatment they have provided. As one of my professors once said “You should never leave the room until you are completely satisfied with your needle placement.”
3) Can I Move When The Needles Are In?
You can move, BUT I always recommend that patients don’t move. If you do move, it will likely cause the needle to move as well. This may or may not cause some discomfort. Patients are usually quickly reminded that they have a needle in and will stop moving right away. Now when we’re talking about moving I don’t mean having needles all over your body and then going for a walk down the hallway. I’m talking about if you have an itchy nose and you need to raise your arm to scratch it. Some patients are completely comfortable doing this, but most will lie still during the entire treatment.
4) I Got Acupuncture From My Physiotherapist, How Is This Different?
Physiotherapists and other health practitioners go through a different training program than Acupuncturists, therefore they may have a completely different treatment approach. Check out What Do You Know About Your Health Care Professional? Most people commonly refer to it as IMS, but several people talk about the experience as being aggressive and painful. It does not have to be painful to get results. It’s worth exploring how a treatment from an Acupuncturist trained in treating injuries can be different.
5) Will The Electro-Stimulation (E-Stim) Make My Muscles Bigger?
The E-Stim will not make your muscles bigger. I cannot attach it to your Abs during the treatment to help you get a six pack while also treating your injury. No matter how many infomercials you’ve seen showing this phenomenon, it does not work that way. The purpose of the E-Stim depends on the condition the patient is being treated for, but the simple answer is that it helps promote the healing process by stimulating the muscle and bringing blood flow to the area.
6) Why Did You Just Put A Needle In My Foot? It’s My Shoulder That Hurts.
Although I am using a western medicine approach when I’m diagnosing and treating your condition I still incorporate Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) into the treatment. This means I am using acupuncture meridians and points that might be located on your foot, but as crazy as it sounds it can actually help your shoulder. There is a textbook called Anatomy Trains by Thomas W. Myers, which maps the body’s fascial and myofascial systems showing how different parts of our body are all interconnected. This book was written based on anatomy and human movement, but upon closer look at these teachings it is amazing how similar it is to acupuncture meridians.
The image on the left shows two different fascial lines from Anatomy Trains and the image on the right shows the Gallbladder and Urinary Bladder meridians in Acupuncture. The two pictures almost mirror each other and yet the one on the right is about 3000 years older!
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