First-time Patients’ Questions

Will it hurt?

As my needling techniques instructor, who is Buddhist, said “the first
rule is to not hurt the patient.” I prefer to use pain-free techniques
in order to maximize the patient’s relaxation, which assists in making
the treatment effective. There are a few points on the body that may feel
like insect stings for a moment — ear acupuncture points are one example
— however, if the patient finds any needle sensation intolerable, I
remove the needle. My technique is based on Japanese acupuncture, which is
more subtle than Chinese or Korean techniques. It’s the same technique
my acupuncturist used for my treatments. While the patient rests for 15-30
minutes, sensations may be felt at the needle sites, or in other parts of
the body; dull aches, tingling, warmth, coolness, and the feeling of water
pouring down the back have all been reported by patients, along with a relaxed,
euphoric feeling at the end of a treatment.

Can you treat more than one problem at the same
time?

Acupuncture is a treatment modality from a holistic medicine system—not
only can I treat more than one problem, I have to, because the problems
may actually be related, even if one is recent, and another is
long-standing. This includes treating both physical and emotional problems.

How many needles are used in
treatment?

On average, a treatment may consist of six to ten needles being inserted
at various points, usually on the arms and legs, though points on the back,
the abdomen, and head may be used. A well-trained and experienced practitioner
will know which points are contraindicated for certain conditions (pregnancy,
for example). Ear acupuncture is a microsystem of points used to treat
the entire body, popular in pain management, smoking cessation, or weight
reduction. Points on the hands and face are used for ‘face lift’ treatments.

How big are the needles?

I use a finer gauge of needle than many acupuncturists, because they are
more comfortable for patients with chronic conditions, and because they minimize
bruising. They are about as thick as a hair.

How deep do the needles go?

Most of the points I use in treatment do not need deep needling. Needle depth
can be just under the skin to about 1/4 inch, occasionally 1/2 inch on some
of the larger leg or arm muscles.

What are the needles made of?

The needles I use are stainless steel; occasionally, I may use gold-plated
needles if they are available, for certain patients. I do not use needles
with silicon coating.

Are the needles
sterile?

Yes — all needles are sterilized and vacuum packed in plastic bubble
packs or paper packs at the manufacturer for one time use.

Is it normal to bleed after
acupuncture?

Some points may bleed a little when the needle is taken out. This
is more likely to happen on a full moon, in hot weather, or on a person
who bleeds or bruises easily. There are some more aggressive acupuncture
techniques that involve bleeding a point with a lancet, and these techniques
are reserved for what acupuncturists refer to as “acute” conditions: traumatic
injury with pain, or inflammation. Generally, acupuncturists are now trained
to explain any aggressive treatment they may use to the patient, and inform
them whether bleeding or bruising will result. The patient is free to decline
such methods; a good acupuncturist will have many different techniques to
offer in approaching a patient’s condition.

Will I feel worse after
treatment?

I do my best to not provoke a “healing crisis” in my patients, since they
usually have been enduring chronic illnesses of long duration when they come
for treatment. I also strive to refrain from performing a treatment that
is stronger stimulation than what a patient’s body can tolerate that
day. I always adjust my treatment plan for a patient if they report
any unpleasant side effects following acupuncture.

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