Acupuncture Q & A

What are the benefits of acupuncture?  How many tx do I need?  Does acupuncture hurt?  And more ...

Q. What are the pros and cons of acupunture treatment ?

A. Pros

  • Immediate pain relief: You will feel instant pain relief and the relief will last way longer than most pain pills. In over 90% cases, the pain will be relieved in less than 10 seconds. Note that it usually takes at least half hour for pain pills (such as Tylenol or Avil) to take effect which lasts only a few hours.

  • Get rid of side effects of medications: No need to worry about the side effects caused by pain pills or other medications such as the notorious opioids which may eventually damage your liver, kidney or other organs and severely affect your body's normal functions even leading to death.

  • Offset side effects of other western treatment: such as chemotherapy, radiation and steroid use.

Cons (side Effects)

The hair thin sterile acupuncture needles will be inserted into your skin/musle layer at specific acupoints. When performed by a professionally trained and licensed acupuncturist, it is very safe with minimal side effects. The commonly seen side effects after treatment include: temporary muscle soreness, numbness or minor bruising at insertion points, drowsy or tiredness feeling, or lightheaded, etc. A UK study with a sample size of 9408 patients ( "Short term reactions to acupuncture ...." in Acupuncture in Medicine (2005, 23(3)) asked about the patients' reactions during or immediately after treatment by practitioners of their choice (a total of 638 different acupuncturists). 79% reported feeling "relaxed." Next, 33% felt "energized." (This is more than 100% already because patients could report more than one response.) Next, 24% reported feeling "tired or drowsy." Other "negative" feeling included temporary discomfort such as soreness, light-headed etc.

Q. Does it hurt? - How will I feel in the needling treatment?

A. Acupuncture needles are sterile and extremely thin, some being 25-50 times thinner than hypodermic needles, that are either felt as a small pinch when inserted or not felt at all. In general people after treatment find acupuncture to be a relaxing experience, even for those who had some initial hesitation about needles or even who were needle phobia. Some people even fall asleep during treatment. Others feel as if they are floating with a tingling, warm sensation. Other sensations that may be felt are heaviness, heat and cold. Most of these sensations are considered as indications that the needling stimulated the body to release "feel good" hormones such as Dopamine, Serotonin and Endorphin, which induce the calming or soothing effect described by many clients.

Q. How long a session lasts and how many treatments (sessions) do I need?

A. One session (treatment) usually lasts 45 min to 60 min depending upon your conditions. Just simply an elbow pain at your right arm, or a knee pain at your left leg? Or pain all over your body from neck, upper back, hip to thigh? ​The number of sessions you need will vary with how long you have been with that condition and how severe that condition is at your visit time. Generally, the more chronic and severe, the more sessions are needed. Internal problems usually require more treatments than muscle/tissue issues.

For example, for an acute sprained knee pain, one or two treatment may be all you need. But a chronic lower back pain you already suffered for years may need 5-10 treatments. Type 2 diabetes might need a course of treatment for 3-4 months at 1-2/week to get your blood surgar reduced close to normal, while the Polycystic ovarian syndrom (PCOS) and associated hormone problems would need at least half year at once per week to treat. Generally speaking, a course of 4 - 8 sessions at one or twice per week would be normally needed for you to get rid of a moderate muscle/joint pain syndrome completely. ​It happened that a 10 year old chronic neck pain never came back after only one treatment (as the patient told me when she were back for acupressure massage 3 months later). But that was exception rather than the rule. In my experience, for an one-year old chronic muscle/joint pain, I need one month to treat you in order for the pain not to come back (4 - 8 sessions, one or twice per week). If the pain was there for two years then I would need two months to help you and so on. So have your pain treated as soon as you can and do not wait untill it becomes a chronic "headache".

Q. How do I get prepared for the acupuncture treatment ?

A. Acupuncture treatment would be a relaxing time for you. To enhance the healing effect,

  • Do not come for treatment when you feel hungry (eat something first).

  • Wear short pants and short sleeve or sleeveless shirt. The needles will be inserted to your limbs (extremities of your body up to your shoulders and thighs).
  • Do not consume alcoholic beverages before or after treatment.

  • After the treatment be sure to rest and relax for the remainder of the day. Avoid direct exposure to wind and cold.

Q. What conditions can acupuncture treat?

A. Acupuncture can treat a very broad range of conditions, and the most commonly treated conditions include:

  • Neck and shoulder pain

  • Low back or upper back pain

  • Sciatica (hip/leg pain or numbness)

  • Joint pain: knee, elbow, fingers, toes, jaw pain (TMJ)

  • Headache, migraine, trigeminal neuralgia (TN)

  • Sleep (too much or too little)

  • Digestive disorders: IBS, Crohn's disease, bloating, constipation, diarrhea

  • Stress, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, low libido, no zest for life, bio-polar syndrome

  • The big three in North America: heart issues, Type 2 diabetes, Cholesterol

  • Female issues: irregular menstruation, premenstrual syndrome ( PMS), cyst (PCOS), fibroid ...

  • Allergies, breathing issue and skin disorders: acne, eczema, asthma, bronchitis, runny nose, congestion

  • Infertility (male and female)

  • General wellness

  • Neuropathy, Diabetes associated numbness, or other abnormal sensation

  • Weird diseases nothing else could cure but acupuncture may help in alleviating symptoms, such as: tinnitus, multiple sclerosis (MS), Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, auto immune etc.

Q. I am sort of a needle phobia, do you have other natural methods to relieve my pain?

A. Yes. There are closely related methods for mild pain relief including accupressure massage, feet massage (reflexology), fire cupping and electric simulation, although their effect are not as quick as that of needls but they do have relaxation effect which helps reduce your muscle tension and stress. The stress is a big factor in increasing your musle tension and pain sensitivity.

For your severe muscle pain, I would recommend you close your eyes, take a deep breath, and let me try just two or three tiny needles on your hands or feet for a few seconds (you will start to feel relief instantly in over 90% cases). Then I can take the needles out and do accupressure massage, fire cupping, feet massage or electric stimulation for you. You will eventually come to know the needles are actually not so dreadful as you thought.

Q. Huh, pain relieved in 10 seconds?

A.  Yes, your pain can be relieved or even eliminated in 10 seconds, more exactly,  in 3 -5 seconds. That is the time needed by the pain-relief signal from your brain or CNS (central nerve systemt) traveling to the location of pains.

Such instant pain relief is true in over 90% cases in my clinic. You may ask, what happened with the remaining < 10%?  The anwser:  < 5 % were structrual pain (not neuropathic pain) where some thing in the body is pushing on sensory nerves, such as a bone spur, a bulging spine disk, a cyst, a fiboid or very unfortunately a small tumor etc. In such cases, other medical modalities including surgery may be needed. But acupuncture still can help in such cases but in a slower manner with long term treatment. The rest <5% cases of no immediate pain relief were due to reasons not known yet.

Q. What is the benefits of acupuncture over chemical pain pills?

A. There are two types of pain relief modalities: Natural v. Chemical. Chemical pain relief pills (medications), also known as analgesics, are among the most commonly used drugs in our daily life. However, all chemical pain medications have site effects. For example, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are among the most common pain relief medicines in the world. All NSAIDs come with the risk of gastrointestinal ulceration and bleeding, some of them (COX-2 inhibitors) may even cause severe and deadly vascular problems with long-term use, including heart attack and stroke. Even the mild pain reliever acetaminophen (Tylenol) can cause liver damage, especially when taking too much or if taken with alcohol.

Fortunately, there is a 2000-years old natural non-oral pain-reliever, not well known in Western world though, that could treat pains more quickly and effectively than pills but without using any chemical. It is called "acupuncture", a traditional Chinese therapeutic technique -- insert hair-thin needles to the skin (acu-points) to relieve or eliminate pain. The modality virtually uses the healing power of human body's mother nature to treat human body itself. It is completely natural and thus you have no worry about the site effects caused by pain relief pills.

So if you are suffering from pain and taking pills, why not have a try on a more speedy and effective natural reliever ?