What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine where very thin needles are inserted into the body at specific points to treat a wide range of problems. It is not my intention to give an overview or history of acupuncture in this article, rather, I will be giving my personal experience using acupuncture and why I believe in it and use it regularly. I will say that if you decide to try it, make sure you do your research and find a licensed practitioner in your area, check references, and even make an appointment to meet with the acupuncturist to get all of your questions answered before deciding to try it. My husband and I use Nicole Ware at HEAL Savannah, and we have been very pleased with her level of professionalism, the relaxing atmosphere of her clinic, and the results we have experienced through treatments.
Before the Needles
What is it like to get an acupuncture treatment? It’s very, very relaxing! First, you enjoy a spa-like atmosphere in the waiting room where you can enjoy some quiet and aromatherapy before the treatment. Once in the treatment room, the acupuncturist will chat with you about how you are feeling. Your pulse will be checked, and you may be asked to stick out your tongue for her to visually examine. Apparently, the tongue can change colors and shape depending on what is going on within the body. Next, you will lie down and get comfortable on the table, which looks like a massage table at a spa. You will be asked to either lie down on your back, your side, or your stomach, depending on what area is being treated. Usually, you can leave your clothing on, simply moving sleeves or shirt tails out of the way if necessary.
Getting the Needles Inserted
First of all, it doesn’t hurt! The first time I had a treatment I was very nervous about the pain, and just feeling generally anxious about the needles. Honestly, I cannot feel most of the needles going in, and the ones I do feel are just barely noticeable. I would describe the sensation as a little pinch, nothing at all like stinging or getting a shot. Typical insertion points are the face, forehead, ears, stomach, shoulders, feet, ankles, hands, forearms, scalp, and areas of the back, depending on treatment. Before insertion of the needles, the practitioner will dab some alcohol on various parts of your body where the needles will be inserted. Once the needles are inserted, the practitioner will ask if you need blankets, heat lamp, fan, or whatever to feel comfortable.
You will now be left in the room after the lights are dimmed, and then you just relax for about 20-45 minutes or so on the table. There is spa-like music playing and the sound of a waterfall, as well as a very nice essential oil smell in the air. I usually fall asleep. It is very typical to feel a warming sensation throughout the body. It feels amazing, and it is very easy to simply relax and fall off to sleep during the treatment, even if you are there because you are sick. That evening, my sleep is always deep and relaxing.
Your Treatment is Almost Over
Once the time is up, the practitioner will come back into the room quietly, begin removing the needles, and discard them. The needles feel different when they are removed than when they are inserted. It is kind of a warm feeling, and no pain at all. There is also no bleeding. The areas are again dabbed with alcohol, followed by a self-paced process of waking up and going outside to the desk to settle the bill and make your next appointment. Your practitioner will be able to tell you how many treatments you may need depending on why you are there. Many ailments only require one treatment, while others may require more.
What I Have Used Acupuncture to Manage
Obviously, I use it to manage anxiety and stress. To do this, I go about twice per month during the school year. My stress level is so much lower in the summer months that I rarely go at all during this time. I have also used it for sinus issues, upset stomach, nerve pain, headaches, and earaches as well as the dizziness and vertigo that accompany ear issues. My husband has gone for knee pain, sciatic nerve pain, back pain, and for relaxation. I have a very good relationship with my practitioner, so when I am sick I can email her and usually get an appointment that day. I have gone in with flu-like symptoms and within a few hours of being treated feel 75% better.
I believe that acupuncture has helped me avoid missed days from work, save money I would have spent at the doctor’s office and on medicine, and allowed my body to heal itself on many occasions. Of course, I still go to my regular doctor because acupuncture does not address every medical issue, but I love using it as an alternative.