Acupuncture FAQ

This article answers some acupuncture FAQ, provides information about acupuncture that first-time patients and anyone interested in acupuncture will find useful and also includes an acupuncture discussion forum.

Acupuncture is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) - a complete, professional medical system that has been continuously practiced in China for at least 2500 years. Other main TCM modalities include Chinese herbal medicine, therapeutic massage and dietary therapy. In Western countries, acupuncture is probably the most commonly known TCM treatment although Chinese herbal medicine is rapidly becoming more popular.

Acupuncture FAQ: What's acupuncture good for?

According to the World Health Organization the following ailments and conditions generally respond well to acupuncture:

  • Acute muscle strains
  • Acute joint sprains
  • Acute & chronic neck & back pain
  • Headache
  • Irregular menstruation, painful menstruation
  • Constipation & diarrhea
  • Indigestion
  • Impotence
  • Post-stroke paralysis
  • Addictions - overeating, smoking & drug dependence

This is not a definitive list though - there are many other acupuncture benefits and some acupuncturists specialize in and obtain very good results treating disorders like acne, asthma and depression.

Acupuncture FAQ: What happens during a treatment?

Initially the acupuncturist will spend up to 30 minutes asking about your complaint, such as how long you've had the problem, your current symptoms, your health history, your diet, your sleeping habits and bowel movements and other information that may seem irrelevant to you - just remember that TCM is an holistic medical system that recognizes the link between body, mind and emotions. Your physical ailment may well have an emotional component too.

Depending on your problem you will lie on the treatment table face down, or on your back, or on one side. Usually from 4-12 acupuncture points are selected. The most common points are on your arms below your elbows, on your legs below your knees and along either side of your spine from your neck to your sacrum. Each point is swabbed with alcohol before the needle is inserted.

The acupuncturist may ask you to report any sensations of tingling or warmth around the site of the needles. These sensations indicate that the point has been correctly located. Generally, the needles are left in place for about 20 minutes, but painful conditions may need longer treatment time. A common acupuncture benefit is that it's usually very relaxing - all you have to do is lie still and it's quite common for people to fall asleep during their treatment.

Tip: As you lie there (eyes closed) breathe slowly, smoothly and deeply through your nose - as you exhale relax and "let go" of your ailment and imagine it leaving your body.

Acupuncture FAQ: Does acupuncture hurt?

If you've never had acupuncture this is an obvious question to ask. However acupuncture needles are extremely fine and usually you will just feel a sensation like a mosquito bite as the needle is inserted. The sensation does vary depending on where the needles are inserted but very few people say acupuncture hurts. They are usually more concerned about whether acupuncture will work for them and whether the needles are clean (acupuncture needles are single-use disposables).

Acupuncture FAQ: How often will I need acupuncture?

In China acupuncture is administered in courses of 7-10 daily treatments, then there's a break of several days, then another 7-10 day course, and so on until the problem is cured. This kind of treatment schedule is usually not convenient or practical for Western people though. Usually Western acupuncturists advise 1-3 treatments a week, which is still usually effective but overall treatment time is longer. To enhance acupuncture treatments many acupuncturists also prescribe Chinese herbal medicine. These days Chinese herbal medicine is available in many forms, like pill, tablet, granule and powder, making it easy and convenient to take.

Acupuncture FAQ: How many treatments will I need?

Overall treatment time is dependent on many factors such as the nature and severity of your complaint, how long you've had it, your age, your general health, your lifestyle and how much you are willing to do to assist the healing process. For example, if the acupuncturist advises that avoiding fried foods and alcohol will help your problem, will you heed the advice?

Also as TCM views each of us as a unique individual, people with the same complaint will most likely receive entirely different treatment and will respond to it differently. Your acupuncturist will best be able to tell you how many treatments you need after he/she has diagnosed your particular problem according to TCM principles.

Acupuncture FAQ: How much does acupuncture cost?

Acupuncture costs vary from city to city and country to country. In China it's administered in public hospitals and is very cheap. In Western countries acupuncture costs may be as low as $30/treatment and as high as $80 or $100. At your initial consultation your acupuncturist should advise you of the cost and also how many treatments you should need. These days many private health insurance funds cover acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine so it's worthwhile looking into this option. Your acupuncturist should be able to provide a list of health funds in your city or area that cover TCM treatments.

This article has covered some of the most common acupuncture FAQ, however if there's something else you want know about acupuncture ask Matthew Scott, below.

Have a question or comment about acupuncture or acupressure?

Site owner Matthew Scott was an acupuncturist in Australia for ten years. He welcomes your questions and comments about acupuncture and acupressure.

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Low Back Pain 
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What is the best way to prevent motion sickness? My wife needs prevention for flying, but will be in her 3rd trimester and has to be careful. Matthew's …

Acupuncture for Joints, Injuries 
Hi, I'd appreciate the offering of answers to questions I have yet to get non-biased, accurate information on. I have arthritis in my big toes, along with …

Acupressure for Headaches 
Matthew, i really don't know what to say, i cant express how thankful i am for your help, you're truly amazing to have released this on the web. I have …

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I would like to know acupuncture points for weight loss. Matthew's reply: Hi, in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), of which acupuncture is a part, …

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