Acupuncture is a form of Chinese traditional medicine used to balance the flow of energy or life force. The idea is that by inserting needles into specific points along pathways in the body, the energy flow will be balanced. Think of this energy flow like a river: if there’s a blockage in the amount of water running downstream, an abundance of life is diminished.
In Western medicine, acupuncture points are used to stimulate nerves, muscles, and tissues, as well as boost the body’s natural painkillers. Over time, acupuncture has become more mainstream and an accepted medical practice that often is covered by medical insurance, but people still have so many questions. If you’re unclear about what to expect in an acupuncture session, here’s how you can prepare.
Prep for Your First Session
Every acupuncture practitioner has a unique style, so be sure to do your research to understand the approach and techniques of your facility or practitioner. To find the best type of acupuncture treatment for you, the practitioner may ask you questions about your behaviors, lifestyle, and any areas on the body you experience pain or discomfort. They may also examine part of your body, such the painful/uncomfortable parts of your body, the shape, coating, and color of your tongue, the tone of your face and skin, and the strength, rhythm, and quality of your pulse.
What Should You Expect?
During the session, the acupuncture practitioner will inform you of the general area(s) they will be treating. Acupuncture points are situated in all areas of the body, and the locations of your pain may be far from the area where the acupuncture needle will be placed. Don’t be surprised. Your practitioner will inform you if you need to remove any clothing. A robe, towel or sheet is often provided for you.
Your practitioner will ask you to lie on a padded table for needle insertion. Acupuncture needles are very thin, most people don’t feel the needle being inserted at all. Needles will be inserted to specific points on your body, with varying depths. You may feel a mild tender sensation when a needle reaches the correct depth. Anywhere between five and 20 needles are typically used.
Once all the needles are in place, the practitioner may gently move or twirl the needles or apply additional stimulation with heat or mild electrical pulses through the needles. This additional sensation can help get to nerves, muscle, and tissue that are especially tight.
After about 10 to 20 minutes of you lying still and relaxed, the practitioner will remove the needles. There is usually no pain or discomfort with needle removal. The procedure is now complete. Following the procedure, some people feel relaxed and others feel energized. Everyone takes to acupuncture differently, so notice how you feel the rest of the day.
Are you ready for your first acupuncture treatment? Contact Balcones Pain Consultants in the Austin area if you believe this traditional form of pain management could benefit you. Our pain specialists include board-certified surgeons who see every patient on their first visit. Call (512) 834-4141 for an appointment at one of our convenient locations today. We see patients in Austin, Cedar Park, and Marble Falls.