“Okay, so the idea of acupuncture is good, helping the body maximize its natural healing ability with no bad side effects. But getting stuck with needles like a pincushion??? You’ve got to be kidding!”
Yes, there are quite a few folk who share this sentiment. I was one of them, even as I started my training in acupuncture. I’m a huge needlephobe, the one who requires smelling salts after a blood draw at the lab. So I get it.
The lovely thing I discovered, though, is that acupuncture is nothing like having blood drawn or getting an injection. In fact, I think our tool shouldn’t even be called a needle. Perhaps call it a filament, or a Qi beacon. It is so small, like a piece of thick hair, and bendable. Many people don’t feel any discomfort at all. They’ll ask me, “Have you put a needle in yet?” And I’ll respond, “Yes, that’s the fifth one…”
Not convinced? Here is more helpful information: What makes acupuncture painless is, first, the practitioner’s expertise, and second, whether it is Chinese style or Japanese style acupuncture. Each type has it strengths. The main difference in terms of comfort is that Japanese style promotes a “zero pain” insertion technique with specially coated needles that just glide through the dermis. After that, there is very little or no manipulation of the needles to intensify the “Qi response”.
That Qi response may feel like a warm, heavy or achy sensation, or like energy traveling up and down a limb or body. It’s all good. And within a short time, you are totally relaxed, possibly drifting off to sleep.
Now if you are still freaking out, no worries, Mate, as there are other methods that get you the great results of acupuncture without getting needled! One of my favorites is “electrostim” and what I call “mini electrostim”.
Electrostim(ulation) uses pairs of electrode pads applied to skin over acupuncture points with a low current passed between them for 10 to 20 minutes. The mini electrostim looks like a big pen and discharges a low current for 15 to 30 seconds to a single acupuncture point at a time, usually on the ears. The sensation falls way short of the static electrical charge you get when you cross the room and touch someone or something that zaps you. Electrostim is particularly useful for acute or chronic pain – it interrupts the pain cycle. Electrostim also activates organ or systems function and rebalances areas that may need a jump start. The intensity of either treatment is set at a patient’s comfort level. And, of course, your practitioner has been highly trained on this equipment prior to licensure.
Some acupuncturists do non-invasive energy work by applying gold and silver Teishin needles to the skin. This method, called “contact needling”, is another gift from Japan. Most practitioners use “seeds” or tiny magnets which are taped on ear points for a few days. Others teach self-healing movement routines like medical Qi Gong or Tai Qi. I found Qi Gong to be another good surprise, more effective over three months than physical therapy for ten months, in my case.
So, there are some healing alternatives for your consideration. Lastly, acupuncture works for an endless list of maladies and diseases, not just pain. If you are not sure that acupuncture can help you, please take a moment to view our acupuncture page.