Commonly Asked Acupuncture Questions
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a medical practice that involves inserting hair-thin needles into the skin at specific points, known as acupuncture points, to manipulate the body's energy, or qi. This has been a key component of traditional Chinese medicine for the past 2,500 years.
How does acupuncture work?
Traditional Chinese medicine works under the understanding that health issues are caused by blockages in the body's qi. These disturbances inhibit the body from functioning properly, leading to disease, discomfort, or other health issues. Acupuncture needles are inserted into specific points on the body to loosen up the blockage, releasing the qi. The qi then flows freely through channels called meridians, promoting self-healing and overall health.
What should I expect during my first visit?
During your first visit, the practitioner will ask you about your lifestyle, health condition, habits, and routines. You may also need to inform your acupuncturist about all medical conditions, treatments and medication. He or she will want as much information as possible to obtain a complete picture about your needs and behaviors.
After the initial consultation, the practitioner may feel your pulse on both wrists. They are sensing dozens of qualities in your pulse that inform them about the state of your internal organs.
A tongue diagnosis may also be performed, in which the acupuncturist examines your tongue's shape, color, cracks, coating, moisture, and other features for more information about your body.
Once your treatment needs have been determined, the acupuncturist will lead you to a private room. They will likely instruct you to remove your shoes and socks before you lay down on the bed provided. They may also adjust your clothing to access acupuncture points.
In addition to acupuncture, the practitioner may determine that additional treatment is needed, such as cupping, electroacupuncture, and Chinese herbal treatments.
After the treatment, patients generally feel relaxed, refreshed, and energized. Clients that were experiencing bodily pain may discover that their discomfort became greatly reduced after the treatment.
Will I bleed during acupuncture?
It depends. Whether or not you will release blood relies on the location of the needle. From my experience, the scalp and the soles of the feet are the most likely areas to bleed.
Bleeding generally occurs after the needle is removed. It does not last long as the pinprick wound closes up quickly within a minute or two. The amount of blood released varies, ranging from a tiny drop to a moderate trickle. This is nothing to worry about as this is your body's way of releasing tension and adjusting the flow of qi.
While I was working as an acupuncture receptionist, I occasionally noticed clients walking out, completely oblivious to the blood trickling down their face. Amused, I would inform them about the bleeding and hand them a tissue. They would laugh, wipe it off, and continue on their merry way.
Will acupuncture hurt?
Once again, it depends. Every point feels different. Some patients don't even feel the needle entering their body. While certain points (such as those on the sole of the foot) may hurt considerably, people generally feel a warm, dull ache upon insertion, which fades quickly.
Of course, the pain will also vary depending on your level of pain tolerance and sensitivity. Personally, I have found it to be bearable and not at all painful. However, the only way to find out exactly how it feels for you is to try it.
What can acupuncture treat?
There is a wide variety of health issues that acupuncture can help.The most common complaints are listed below. If you are unsure as to whether or not a certain condition is treatable, your best option is to call your local acupuncturist and ask.
- Body pain (neck, back, and joint pain, muscle soreness, etc.)
- Sore throat
How much does acupuncture cost?
From my experience, the initial appointment costs around $120 or above, and the following sessions cost around $90. The price may vary depending on location and practitioner.
The majority of the cost comes from the price of the needles, which are single use only. The needles are generally imported, and the expenses due to their weight brings up the price.
Does health insurance cover acupuncture?
Usually, no. While certain health insurances do cover the cost of acupuncture, most do not. For more information specific to you, call your insurance company and your local acupuncturist.