Frequently Asked Questions About Acupuncture

Acupuncture Needles FAQ
Thinking about trying Acupuncture but feeling a bit nervous? Here is a short list of the most frequently asked questions. 

How does Acupuncture work?

Acupuncture helps to restore and stimulate your body’s innate ability to heal itself. Stimulation of acupuncture points “acupoints” via needling, punctures mast cells beneath the skin, which then release chemicals called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins work to signal the brain to release opiate-like substances that function as our body’s natural pain killers. 

Acupuncture also improves the flow of oxygen (Qi), blood (xue), and nutrients (Ying Qi) through the vessels to provide nourishment to all cells in the body. Impairment of that flow (stagnation) leads to dis-ease and malfunction. Restoring proper flow allows all the healing components of the blood to reach the targeted areas, encouraging healing to begin. 

Does it Hurt?

While it is true that some acupoints can feel more “intense” than others, an acupuncture treatment should not be painful in any way. An experienced Acupuncturist will adjust technique, manipulation, and needle size to ensure a pain free, relaxing experience. Most people will not feel the needle upon insertion, but often feel a sense of calm and relaxation as the treatment continues. 

Is there anything in the needles?

No. Acupuncture needles are made of presterilized solid surgical stainless steel. They are one-time-use. After each treatment they are disposed of as medical waste, needles are never used again. 

What if I fall asleep during the session?

Totally ok! It’s often the case that people doze off during a session, Acu naps are the best kind! Most people report feeling somewhere inbetween; not totally asleep, but not entirely awake either. During acupuncture the brain goes between alpha waves (relaxation, wakefulness, production of serotonin) and theta waves (REM, production of hormones released during stress, and increased creativity) This unique combination of brain states continue to benefit your brain long after the treatment. 

How do you know where to put the needles?

With 365 commonly used acupuncture points on the body, we certainly have options! Each point has a specific anatomical location and a variety of functions. After a thorough intake, your Acupuncturist will decide which point combinations are best suited for your particular presentation. Expect to have between 10-12 needles in an average session. Of course this varies, and depends on the practitioners style of treating, the patients level of comfort, and the conditions being treated. 

What happens in the initial session?

In the initial session a complete health history is taken with a focus on your main concerns. After a series of questions, your Acupuncturist will ask to see your tongue and feel your pulse. These are important diagnostic tools, TCM practitioners use to identify imbalances in organ systems, and to confirm their TCM diagnosis. An individualized point combination is selected and treatment begins. When all the needles are in place and begin to settle, it is important to rest and allow the nervous system to move into a parasympathetic state. Most Acupuncturists will leave the room at this time, but will always be within earshot. Each patient will require a different needle retention time, but you should expect at least 20 minutes. A treatment plan will be discussed before rebooking, as well as the addition of other modalities such as tunina, cupping, etc. 

Is Dry Needling the same as TCM Acupuncture ?

No, dry needling differs from traditional acupuncture. Dry needling is a technique used by physiotherapists, chiropractors and occupational therapists, etc. based strictly on body anatomy and used primarily to treat pain and tension by way of muscle trigger points.  Dry needling does not apply any TCM principles or diagnosis. Hence, dry needling practitioners are not necessarily receiving the same level of training as set out by the standards of the CTCMPAO.