Frequently Asked Questions

Does it hurt?

Most people’s perception of needles is based on those used for injections or taking blood. Acupuncture needles bear little resemblance to these. Acupuncture needles are incredibly fine and are solid rather than the hollow ones used for injections. Insertion is done using a guide tube which is very quick and rarely felt. A sensation is often felt when the needle reaches the point which is often described as an ache or a tingle. These sensations usually pass very quickly during the treatment.


How often will I need a treatment?

Reactions to treatment will vary as each person is treated based on their individual case taking into account the underlying cause of their illness. Sometimes people only require a short course of treatment but patients with long standing conditions may need to come for more regular treatments. It is usually expected that results will be seen after around 8 treatments. Treatment may initially need to be on a weekly basis until initial improvements are seen. Once patients see an improvement in their symptoms treatment can be less often. Acupuncture can then be used as a maintenance treatment as and when required.

This area can be discussed with your acupuncturist on your first visit.


Is it safe?

There are very few side effects from acupuncture when practised by a fully qualified practitioner of traditional acupuncture. The needles used are ultra-fine, single-use, sterile and disposable and any side effects, such as dizziness or bruising around needle points, are mild and self-correcting.
When you are treated by a BAcC registered acupuncturist you can be confident that your wellbeing and safety is at the core of everything your practitioner does.


Should my doctor know?


If you are receiving treatment from your GP then it is polite to inform them of your plans to have acupuncture, however this shouldn’t stop you receiving acupuncture treatment. It is possible that through receiving acupuncture you may be able to cut down on prescribed medication but this will only be done through close consultation with your GP and acupuncturist. An acupuncturist will always carry out a thorough case history to ensure they have all the relevant information about you and it is important they know what medication you are taking.


Who has acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a great form of treatment that is suitable for everyone. People will come with a variety of illnesses and some people just come to feel better in themselves. Acupuncture can work well along side conventional medicine for both acute and chronic disease.

What will happen when I come for treatment?

Consultation

During the initial consultation a traditional acupuncturist will take a complete medical history in order to understand your unique physical profile and lifestyle. You will generally be asked about your current symptoms, medical history, diet, digestive system, sleeping patterns and emotional state. The practitioner will take your pulse on both wrists and may examine your tongue and palpate for areas of muscular tension or pain.


Treatment plan

Following diagnosis an acupuncturist will put together your personalised treatment plan which may include lifestyle and dietary advice. The acupuncturist will use ultra-fine, sterile acupuncture needles to stimulate specific acupuncture points on your body. Because energy meridians cover the whole body, the points used are not always close to where you experience pain or discomfort. For example, if you suffer from headaches needles might be inserted in your foot or hand.


Techniques

In addition to needling acupuncture points, a traditional acupuncture treatment may include other Chinese medicine techniques such as:

Moxibustion:
Application of indirect heat using moxa, a therapeutic herb known for its warming and nourishing qualities.

Heat lamps:
Used to warm and relax muscles and encourage blood flow to areas of pain.

Electro-acupuncture:
A very low frequency electrical current (1Hz) is applied to the needle to increase blood flow, relax muscle tissue and clear stagnant Qi

Cupping:
Glass cups with a vacuum seal are placed on the skin to stimulate blood flow and clear stagnant Qi

Guasha:
A form of massage therapy traditionally involving jade tools (nowadays plastic) to move Qi and Blood in acute injuries.


Lifestyle advice

Acupuncturists may suggest ways in which you can enhance the long-term effects of your treatment, such as by making changes to your diet and daily routine. If necessary you will be referred to other healthcare practitioners for specialist care.


After effects


Most people find acupuncture relaxing and often feel very calm after a treatment. You may feel tired or sleepy and should take this into account if you are planning to drive or use machinery straight after your treatment. Acupuncture has very few side effects and any that do occur are usually mild and self-correcting. Cupping and guasha can sometimes temporarily mark the skin. Such bruising is painless and generally clears within a day or two.