During an acupuncture treatment, your acupuncturist inserts very thin needles into specific spots on your body. Insertion of the needles usually causes little discomfort.
Each person who performs acupuncture has a unique style, often blending aspects of Eastern and Western approaches to medicine. To determine the type of acupuncture treatment that will help you the most, your practitioner may ask you about your symptoms, behaviors and lifestyle. He or she may also closely examine:
The parts of your body that are painful
- The shape, coating and color of your tongue
- The color of your face
- The strength, rhythm and quality of the pulse in your wrist
Acupuncture points are situated in all areas of the body. Sometimes the appropriate points are far removed from the area of your pain. Your acupuncture practitioner will tell you the general site of the planned treatment and whether you need to remove any clothing. A gown, towel or sheet will be provided. You lie on a padded table for the treatment, which involves:
- Needle insertion. Acupuncture needles are inserted to various depths at strategic points on your body. The needles are very thin, so insertion usually causes little discomfort. People often don't feel them inserted at all. A typical treatment uses 5 to 20 needles. You may feel a mild aching sensation when a needle reaches the correct depth.
- Needle manipulation. Your practitioner may gently move or twirl the needles after placement or apply heat or mild electrical pulses to the needles.
- Needle removal. In most cases, the needles remain in place for 10 to 15 minutes while you lie still and relax. There is usually no discomfort when the needles are removed.
Some people feel relaxed and others feel energized after an acupuncture treatment. But not everyone responds to acupuncture. If your symptoms don't begin to improve within a few weeks, acupuncture may not be right for you.