~by Dr. Gregory Steiner
Many of us have heard about the benefits of natural healing, the thought of not being dependent on medications, the ability for the body to function optimally based upon proper diet and exercise, and holistic therapies that can heal us of afflictions. Eastern medicine has educated us on the benefits of massage, herbal and aromatherapy, and even acupuncture. Unfortunately, many of us are reluctant to seek acupuncture treatment because we have a fear, a fear of the unknown and a fear of needles. But what does the “typical” thought of needle conjure in the mind? Maybe we were traumatized when we received immunization shots as a child, anesthesia shots for fillings, or some other type of injection leaving our brains to associate needles with pain and uncomfortable situations. Luckily, acupuncture performed correctly by a trained professional causes virtually no pain!
I’m afraid of needles, does acupuncture hurt?
Rest assured that acupuncture needles are in no way similar to hypodermic needles. First of all, a medical hypodermic needle has a hollow point and sharp edge and must “break” the skin to either insert or withdraw fluid. Acupuncture needles are solid, round-point thin and wire-like and are sterilized and disposable. With their small size, they are more comparable to a strand of hair. They are hardly like needles at all. The depth the needle goes is so shallow that it doesn’t even draw blood. A helpful comparison is that between 20 and 40 acupuncture needles can actually fit inside the hollow shaft point of a hypodermic needle (depending on size). These needles are so small and thin that some of them can actually be passed through a balloon without popping it!
What does it feel like?
Many patients describe the feeling of the needle as either a tingling or pulsating sensation, or a dull ache which soon passes, or not feeling anything at all being inserted. It only takes a second for the doctors to insert the needle and when working with an experienced practitioner, should relatively be painless. If by chance, there is discomfort, the needle can be quickly removed and repositioned. Pain isn’t something that should be felt or elicited; in fact, the acupuncture is used to do the opposite and help alleviate pain.
What is it used for?
Acupuncture can help with a variety of issues, including reduction or elimination of pain, whether it be for the back, neck, shoulders or joints to name a few. It can help with headaches, stress & anxiety, and even help balance the body which in turn can positively affect the thyroid, menstruation issues, and hormones. It has also been used to increase energy levels and has been effective in weight loss and allergy symptom relief. The list can go on and on for the benefits that acupuncture can provide.