1. How big are the needles and how deep are they inserted?

The stainless steel needles, normally about as thin as a human hair. are presterilized and disposable. Unlike the hollow needles used for giving injections, acupuncture needles are solid. The acupuncturist will insert them to a depth of anywhere from a quarter of an inch to 3 inches, depending on the amount of subcutaneous fat that the needles need to penetrate.

2. Will it hurt?

Acupuncture should be painless, although some people experience a slight sharp sensation depending on how sensitive they are and where the needles are inserted. Once the needle is in place, it’s normal to initially feel a tingling sensation, numbness, mild pressure or warmth. If these sensations became too strong or are uncomfortable, alert your acupuncturist and she will adjust the needles.

3. What exactly should I expect to happen during an acupuncture session?

The first treatment starts with a thorough medical history followed by a physical exam that notes skin tone, tongue condition and the qualities of your wrist pulse. According to TCM theory, these observations provide an indication of what’s going on in your body. After making a diagnosis, the practitioner will ask you to lie down and insert needles into key points. You’ll be allowed to rest with the needles in place, typically for up to 40 minutes.

4. How does acupuncture work?

Traditional Chinese medicine teaches that the quality of energy or life force in the body – what acupuncturists call qi (pronounced “chee”) determines our health. This qi circulates along energy pathways called meridians, many of which are linked to specific organs. Disease results when the qi becomes blocked and cannot circulate freely. In order to rebalance the energy flow and restore health, acupuncturists insert needles into key points on the body. (They work with approximately 360 acupoints.)

5. How many sessions do I need in order to start feeling the benefits?

That depends on the severity of the condition. For some people, the effect of acupuncture can be quite dramaticthey may feel the benefits after one session. !=or others, the response may be more gradual. In general, you should notice at least small changes in your condition within four to six treatments. If you are not seeing benefits, keep in mind that there is variability in the quality of acupuncturists. So before deciding whether acupuncture works for you, you could also consider trying a different practitioner.

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