The first things that come to peoples’ minds when they hear the word acupuncture are “needles” and “pain”. Yes, acupuncture mostly uses needles, although there are are other techniques that are part of acupuncture that do not use needles (see below - cupping, gua sha, shonishin). The needles used by acupuncturists are very small and thin - not much thicker than your hair. I cannot speak for everyone, but the techniques I use make the procedure almost or completely painless. Some people may feel a little “mosquito bite” when the needle goes in, but after that, the procedure is quite comfortable. Quite a few people actually fall asleep during their treatment because they are so relaxed!
How does acupuncture work?
We have energy pathways running through our body that connect the surface of the body right down to the muscles and the organs. The energy in these pathways must be flowing properly for the body to be balanced and free of symptoms. If the energy is blocked, in excess, deficient or flowing in the wrong direction, your body will show symptoms. For example, if energy is blocked in a certain area after an injury, it will cause pain. Or, energy flowing the wrong direction to the lungs can cause coughing. By gently inserting a few needles just into the shallow surface of the body at specific points, we can unblock or change the flow of energy and stop the symptoms.
Will acupuncture help me?
Because acupuncture can influence so many areas of the body, it can be used for a number of different conditions and can either eliminate or greatly reduce your symptoms. Acupuncture is great for any pain - headaches/migraines, stomach aches, painful joints, sciatica, tennis elbow, back/shoulder/neck pain to name a few. But, acupuncture can be used for so much more than just pain - menstrual problems, infertility, poor circulation, respiratory conditions (colds, cough, asthma, bronchitis), digestive problems (diarrhea, constipation, Crohn’s, colitis, nausea), urinary problems, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and even just overall stress. The list is extensive, so if you are not sure, it doesn’t hurt to call and ask.
What if I am terrified of needles, but would like to try something alternative for my condition?
There are a few other techniques that acupuncturists use that may help you. Gua sha is a technique that uses a press stroking on the skin to raise redness - almost like a big hickey. Blood is drawn to the surface (painlessly) and when the body starts reabsorbing the cells, certain compounds are activated. These compounds have anti-inflammatory properties, so this method very effective in reducing pain and inflammation, not only for muscles but internal disorders too (like fatty liver, active chronic Hepatitis B, asthma and emphysema). Cupping is similar to Gua ha but uses suction cups to raise the redness on the skin.
Can children have acupuncture?
Absolutely yes! There is also a technique called Shonishin that can be used on children (especially any age under 6) that does not use needles. It involves gently tapping or stroking along energy pathways to regulate the energy flow. For more information on this, check out the Children's page on this website.