As someone who works for an acupuncturist (Hi everyone, I’m Emily, the office manager!), I am frequently asked what it feels like and what will happen during treatment? People’s biggest concern is that it will hurt. I totally understand that concern, so let me break down what my appointments have been like. Please keep in mind that everyone experiences physical sensation differently, so what is true for me may not be true for you, but it’ll help you get an idea of what one lay person has experienced in her treatments.
Let me preface this by saying I have chronic illnesses that cause me a fair amount of daily pain, and I’ve had all sorts of treatments done to me over the years, including Western medicine (which usually just means medication). So a little extra pain from a needle doesn’t bother me if it means I’ll feel better after it and have to rely on medication – with all of it’s side effects – less.
That being said, most of the time the needles don’t hurt. Every once in awhile, I’ll have one feel like it’s burning a little or feel a small prick at the moment it’s inserted. When that happens I let my acupuncturist know, and they adjust it and it goes away. It does NOT feel like going for a shot at the doctor’s office or like giving blood or getting a tattoo. That deep pain just isn’t present with acupuncture needles, in my experience.
Sometimes, the points the acupuncturist inserts the needles into will cause a sort of electrical feeling through the muscle. It might twitch a little bit, but it’s not painful – just sort of weird. Honestly, it cracks me up to watch a toe or finger or something twitch without me doing anything. And I’m always blown away by the fact that the acupuncturist might put a few needles in my feet to cure my headache, or in my knee for abdominal pain. It’s crazy, but really cool because it works.
Usually, the relief from whatever pain I’m feeling is pretty immediate. When it’s not, I let the acupuncturist know, and they make adjustments. Once they’ve put several needles in, they’ll let you lay there for a bit, and check in periodically to see if the sensations have shifted at all, and again, they’ll make adjustments as needed. I generally try to meditate, but 9 times out of 10, I end up napping, which feels pretty luxurious in the middle of the day. It’s the perfect way to let go for a bit and “just be” – something I struggle with most of the time.
Because I work for an acupuncturist, I don’t have to wait for an appointment to get treatment for acute symptoms like a migraine. A major benefit! I can sit at my desk with needles stuck in me and go about my work. Not as relaxing, but certainly efficient and it keeps me functional.
Again, everyone will feel things a little differently, but I don’t think of acupuncture as being painful. Admittedly, it can feel a little odd in some spots, but well worth it for the functionality I gain.
Wishing you wellness,