In my practice, I find that many people are curious about acupuncture, but are hesitant to give it a try. Many say they are “afraid of needles” or “worried that it will be painful” – or there are those who have no clue about the health benefits of acupuncture. To address these queries and worries, I have put together a list of responses to most commonly asked questions.
The first is always “does it hurt?” Some people feel nothing at all upon insertion of the needle (referred to as a needle, but is really more like a fine wire). Some people feel a mild sensation that they might liken to a mosquito bite or having one hair plucked. Occasionally and rarely we get into bee-sting territory, but really the bee sting itself is usually not experienced as very painful, it’s the aftermath (your body’s immune reaction to the sting) which is not present with an acupuncture needle insertion? The majority of people do just fine with receiving acupuncture! I even treat young children, and they don’t seem to mind much either, other than being forced to sit still!
“When will I feel better?” This varies body to body. Some people feel immediate change while they rest on the table or soon after they arise from it. Others may feel it later in the day or even the next day. Years ago, I had one client who always felt the change three days later, like clock-work! That’s just how their body needed to process the work we were doing.
“How many times do I have to come in?” This is an entirely “grey area.” Some people improve with great, steady strides forward. These clients will most likely require fewer treatments, maybe 4-8 visits. Some people improve with baby steps. For others, it can be a two-steps forward, one-step back type of situation. Some problems are more stubborn than others and require more frequent visits over a longer period of time. At the beginning of your treatment plan, you will come more frequently and when we see lasting results, the treatments can be spaced further apart. We treat acute problems or mild injury needing fewer treatments, while chronic, longstanding issues may require 10-14 visits. Those with severe health issues, permanent damage or deformity find they want to come in as often as their body needs in order to maintain optimal function and comfort. Keep in mind, you can NEVER have too much acupuncture, but you can have too little.
“Is this something where I need to come forever?” Not necessarily, although many people choose to. For many, they want to prevent the issue from reoccurring, so they choose to be on a maintenance plan. This depends on the person and their body. Some do every other week, some do monthly. There are those where a month is too long in between and two weeks is too short, so they choose a three week rotation.
“Does acupuncture work for _________ condition?” More often than not, the answer is yes. There is almost no limit to what acupuncture can do! However, we never want to be so bold as to say that acupuncture can help everything for everyone.
“What are the side effects?” Most commonly people feel very relaxed and stress-free after a treatment. This is due to the release of all of your feel-good chemicals when receiving acupuncture. Second most common is a bruise. We are breaking the skin and if a small vein or vessel cannot be seen, it may occasionally be contacted with the needle insertion, resulting in a bruise. No big deal, it goes away just like every other bruise you have had. Rarely, people might feel a bit dizzy, especially after work on the neck. This occurs because of the increased blood flow to the head and is usually very short lived-usually just a momentary spin. Again, this is rare. All in all, it is HARD to hurt someone with acupuncture.
What happens during the acupuncture visit? You should arrive wearing loose fitting clothing that can be rolled up or moved. There are acupuncture points all over the body, loose clothing allows the acupuncturist to expose points without the necessity of disrobing. Women should not wear one-piece dresses. If needed, a gown will be provided. After discussing your symptoms you will lie down on a massage table and the acupuncturist will insert the needles. You will then be permitted to rest on the table for a period of time, determined by the acupuncturist, usually in dim lighting with soft, relaxing music playing. The provider leaves the room. (Many people feel so relaxed during the rest period, they fall asleep.) The provider checks on you periodically to confirm your comfort and after a period of time he/she will turn up the lighting, remove the needles, answer any questions you have, discuss future appointments, and gently send you on your way.
Finally, people ask “how much does it cost and does insurance cover it?” My fees for the initial visit, which includes a medical history and first treatment is $90. Follow-up visits are $65. More and more insurance plans are offering coverage. It is best to call your plan directly and ask if acupuncture benefits are included, what providers are covered, for what conditions and how many visits, as this varies with each provider. If there is no coverage, many people are happy to learn they can use Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending. I always recommend you check. Here at Ommani we do not bill insurance carriers for acupuncture care, you must pay for care on the day of service (you are always free to submit the receipts for care to insurance yourself).
If there are other questions you would like answered, please feel free to contact the Ommani Center and ask to speak with me. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.
May 2018 Aimee Brown, LAc, MSOM. Reach out or schedule appointments with Aimee by calling Ommani at 262.695.5311.