It’s that thing where they poke your body with needles, right?
Most of us have heard references to the Eastern medical practice at some point or another, but what really is acupuncture?
I used to have very bad migraines. While researching treatments, I came across an article citing acupuncture as a remedy for chronic pain. I have to admit I was extremely skeptical: all I knew about the practice was that it originated in China and involved long, intimidating needles. Nevertheless, I decided if it had the potential to help me, I would to give it a try.
The results were astounding. In only a few weeks, my migraines were pretty much gone: transforming me from a needle-skeptic to a hard-core acupuncture advocate.
So, for any of you that may be looking for a remedy to your chronic pain problems, here is my personal acupuncture guide to help you out.
How does it work?
Acupuncture is a Chinese medical practice that has become increasingly popular in Western culture in the past few decades. It operates around the idea that the human body is made up of twelve pathways (also called meridians) through which there is a flow of energy. Sometimes this energy, or qi, becomes blocked or imbalanced, resulting in issues that span from chronic pain to infertility.
It is believed that by inserting needles into specific points along the meridians, the balance can be restored in the body. Studies in Western medicine also confirm the therapeutic effects of acupuncture due to the release of endorphins stimulated by needles.
What does it treat?
Acupuncture is most recognized for its role in pain management. It can also help with a variety of problems spanning from menstrual cramps to serious diseases like fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. It is even known to treat mental health issues like depression. For a full list of its treatment benefits, see this report by the World Health Organization.
How much does it cost?
Acupuncture generally costs between $60-$120 per private session. But there are practitioners who perform community sessions for as low as $20. These sessions are cheaper because they are performed with multiple patients in a room. If you’re considering acupuncture, you may want to talk to your insurance provider because they may cover the treatment.
Is it safe?
When performed properly, by a licensed acupuncturist, the treatment is very safe. Unlike many pain medications, it has little to no side effects. The needles used in acupuncture are regulated and approved by the FDA: they are sterile and thrown away after each use. The needles are also extremely thin and usually painless upon insertion.
What is a typical appointment like?
While I can only speak to my own experience, it is important to remember that treatment varies depending on the practitioner. I personally attend community sessions, which means my treatment is performed in a room with other people.
At my first appointment, the acupuncturist asked me a series of questions about my general health and problems I was looking to address. She then led me into a spacious room with white walls and calming music playing in the background. I laid back in one of the six cushy armchairs spaced around the room while she gently inserted needles into my hands, legs, and forehead. She then left me to relax peacefully in the chair for about 45 minutes before coming in to gently remove the needles. I would like to point out that everyone reacts differently to medical treatment. With this guide I simply aimed to share my experience and knowledge on the subject of acupuncture in hopes that it might encourage others to find their paths to wellness.