Over the past year and a half, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to work and manage the front desk of Inner Ocean Center for Healing, an acupuncture and herbal medicine clinic in the heart of Lafayette, Colorado. In doing so, I have fielded numerous calls, texts, and emails inquiring about our services and answered countless questions about acupuncture.
So I thought I’d share with you the most frequently asked questions I hear and offer insight based on my own experience as both a patient of acupuncture as well as the invaluable conversations I’ve had with our team.
Here are the 5 most frequently asked questions from the front desk of an acupuncture clinic office manager:
1) Does acupuncture work for (fill in the blank)?
A: Yes, acupuncture can work for anything that you would go to see a doctor for. However, acupuncturists do not diagnose conditions the same way a western doctor would. Rather, they look for patterns of symptoms in body, mind, and spirit – to help determine how to move energy, called chi, through the body. This pattern diagnosis and movement of chi is to help you heal the very symptoms of the “diagnosis” you are calling about.
That being said, at our clinic, we never discount western medicine or the “diagnoses” your doctor might have given you, but rather use it as a tool to help identify the root cause of disharmony on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual level. For example, you may be coming in with migraines but your practitioner’s goal isn’t just to get rid of the migraines. The goal is to get rid of them and then help you figure out how to never let them come back! Then once they are gone, your practitioner will ask you: what do you want to work on next?
2) How many sessions will it take to resolve my issue?
A: Everyone responds to acupuncture a little differently and everyone comes in with their own systems and symptoms. It makes it difficult to give an exact answer to this. For example, if you have been struggling with back pain since you fell last weekend, we are likely going to be able to get you out of pain quicker and more sustainable than someone who has been dealing with back pain for the last 20 years and is just now making their way into our healing center. However, we do suggest weekly treatments for the first few weeks so that our practitioners can work with you and track how well treatment is working for you. The ultimate goal, however, is to get you back into balance so that visits become less frequent and you eventually only need to come in for maintenance.
3) Do the needles hurt?
A: I really love this question because people new to acupuncture think of acupuncture needles as thick vaccine or blood draw needles. Acupuncture needles are not the big clunky needles of hospital nightmares but they are actually about the width of a piece of hair. So, while there can be some sensation you may feel when an acupuncture needle is inserted, it’s not anything like getting a vaccine or having blood drawn and often feels like a little pinch (if anything).
The great news is that if you are super sensitive to needles, we do have even thinner needles that we use with babies and animals and are hardly felt yet just as effective in treatment. Communication with your practitioner throughout your treatment is key to let them know if something feels uncomfortable and they can adjust your treatment plan to meet your needs.
4) What does it feel like after I receive acupuncture?
A: Acupuncture feels a little different to everyone. In my own experience with acupuncture, I often become very relaxed and feel tingles move throughout my body. Most people report feeling very relaxed (sometimes referring to their post-acupuncture experience as being in “acu-land” and this is because acupuncture gives you access to all kinds of endorphins during and after treatment (our pleasure chemicals!). However, depending on what you are working with and seeking support for, this may feel different and you could leave your session feeling more alert or as though you could use a nap.
5) What should I expect after my session?
A: Again, this varies from person to person depending on the severity and longevity of their symptoms. However, many people report feeling more relaxed, sleeping better, and otherwise feeling less stressed in their day-to-day activities. We recommend that you spend the next 24 hours after your treatment listening to your body and following the cues it gives you.
If you feel tired, take a nap. If you feel alert and energetic, take a walk (although I wouldn’t recommend running a marathon after treatment even though you may feel like it!)
There are times when you may feel like your symptoms get worse in the first 24-48 hours after treatment and this is totally normal. It is a sign that your body is healing and adjusting to the new flow of energy. If this happens, DO NOT PANIC! I generally advise people to keep a journal or a log for any unusual symptoms that they might feel so that they can remember and discuss it with their practitioner at their next appointment.
If you are feeling worried about your symptoms, you can always call our clinic and one of our practitioners will be available to talk. But above all else, the most important thing anyone can do after a session is to drink lots of water and listen to your body’s cues as to what it needs, whether that is more rest, a walk around the block, or a nice soak in the bathtub.
Thanks for reading and I do hope that this may clear up any questions you might have surrounding acupuncture. If you’d like to experience acupuncture yourself, I’d love to help get you scheduled with one of our amazing practitioners and help support you on your journey to wellness.
In love and light,