I was definitely a skeptic about trying acupuncture, but when I found out that it was covered by my insurance and my mom had a great deal of success with it, I decided to give it a try. Acupuncture is a form of natural medicine in which small needles are inserted for a short period of time to relieve pain, tension, and stress. Throughout my life I have suffered from a lot of muscle tension, and I have tried just about everything to relieve this including massages, meditation, yoga, and more. While I enjoy yoga a lot and definitely would not turn down the opportunity to get a massage, nothing has come close to the effectiveness of acupuncture in relieving my body’s muscle tension.
I remember in January when I was home for winter break, I was telling one of my high school friends all about my success with acupuncture.
“Woah!” she said, “Are there needles in you right now?!”
There are many misconceptions about acupuncture that I want to address, and one is that the needles are only inserted during your appointment, and they take them out before you leave. Additionally, the needles are incredibly small, so it is not the same needles you may associate with vaccinations, blood draws, piercings, or tattoos. I typically do not feel the needles going into my body, but when I do, the best way I can describe this is that it feels like poking your skin with the tip of a mechanical pencil. Another thing that people should know about acupuncture is that not everyone responds to it in the same way. People usually do not notice results from their first appointment, as it takes the body time to respond to the treatment. I felt a significant improvement in my body tension from my second appointment, but it takes some people six to eight weeks to start to experience results. You can go to acupuncture weekly, monthly, or on an as-needed basis. There is not a required treatment cycle, and the process looks different for everyone.
While many people claim acupuncture results are due to the placebo effect, my acupuncturist has a doctorate in natural medicine and is incredibly knowledgeable about health and wellness. She starts each appointment by asking me about any pain I am experiencing and my stress levels. This is how she decides where to place the needles, as placing them in different points on the body can have different effects. For example, if I am feeling high levels of stress then she will place more
needles in my ears, because these points are shown to reduce stress levels. If I am feeling muscle tension in my shoulders, she will place needles in my shoulders and connect a machine that makes them vibrate to loosen the muscle tension. There are specific acupuncture points for a wide variety of conditions, and I would strongly encourage anyone experiencing pain or stress to give it a try.
Finding the right acupuncturist is incredibly important. Do your research and make sure that your doctor has a lot of experience with acupuncture and is a great personal fit for you as a patient! Getting a recommendation from a primary care doctor, family member, or friend can be really helpful in finding a great acupuncture practice.
I remember feeling quite apprehensive about trying acupuncture, as I was freaked out by the idea of someone sticking needles in my body. I originally thought of acupuncture as a treatment that was not very scientific or medically based. However, after experiencing the impact of acupuncture for myself I have learned that it can significantly improve the quality of life for people that experience it. According to my doctor, for many it provides a natural pain relief that is an alternative to drugs. I hope American culture in the future will accept acupuncture more readily as a form of real medicine so that more people will get to experience the relief that acupuncture provides.