Acupuncture is among the oldest healing practices in the world, involving the insertion of extremely thin needles through your skin at strategic points on your body.
It is a technique for balancing the flow of energy or life force, Qi—believed to flow through pathways (meridians) in your body. By inserting the needles in specific points along these meridians, your energy flow will re-balance.
What to expect from an acupuncture treatment.
Acupuncture needles are metallic, solid, and hair-thin. People experience acupuncture differently, one may feel a momentary sharp or stinging sensation; however many report they don’t even feel the majority of the insertions. It is common to experience a deep ache for a short time in some of the points. The needles may then be gently manipulated by hand and heat or electricity may also be applied.
It is also typical to suggest supplemental Chinese herbs to enhance the achievement of energetic balance. Acute symptoms may require only 2-4 treatments; whereas for chronic cases, it is common to have as many as 12 or more treatments over a course of eight to 10 weeks. Regular monthly visits may be suggested as preventive measures to decrease stress, improve energy or boost immunity.
What side effects can I expect?
Serious complications are extremely rare. The most common side effects are:
- Worsening symptoms—while most people notice a marked improvement in their symptoms following a treatment, some feel worse before they start feeling better.
- Fatigue—people can feel wiped out after a treatment. A more common result is increased energy, however, for those who feel fatigue, it is your body telling you it’s depleted. If you experience this, take it easy for the remainder of the day. Drink plenty of water, take a bath, go to bed early.
- Soreness—Soreness typically dissipates within 24 hours. However, big trigger point releases can cause residual soreness lasting a few days. It is recommended to purchase an electric heating pad, use the lowest setting and apply to areas of the body that have been treated.
- Bruising—Although less common, bruising can occur in acupuncture at the needling site. The bruising is a result of a hematoma, a localized collection of blood that gets initiated when the needle punctures the skin. Bruises typically take approximately 7-14 days to completely heal.
- Lightheadedness—Post-treatment lightheadedness can result in fainting in very rare circumstances. Getting up quickly from the table and coming to the appointment on an empty stomach can also contribute to lightheadedness. When your session is over, take your time getting up and if you feel a little lightheaded, sit in the waiting room for a few minutes, drink some water and take some deep breaths.
- Emotional release—Sometimes people cry during treatments, not from pain, but because their emotions become free-flowing. Feeling extra sensitive or tearful in a session or in the days that follow is completely normal.