Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine that has been around for thousands of years as a holistic pain treatment process. It is thought to provide pain relief for everyday aches and pains, chronic pain and injuries, headaches, migraines, and dental pains. Acupuncture encourages natural healing by the body. There are almost no side effects of acupuncture. In recent years, acupuncture is also increasingly being used for stress relief, tension headaches, and to promote a general sense of overall wellness. The sharp acupuncture needles are extremely thin and do not hurt when placing them. At most, there might be some mild discomfort, tingling, and post-procedure temporary soreness.
Does Acupuncture Hurt?
How Acupuncture Works
An acupuncturist will insert needles in areas that stimulate the nervous system. In turn, the nervous system releases endorphins, serotonin, and hormones in the spinal cord, the brain, and muscles. This is done so that the body can release natural painkillers – endorphins, and serotonin.
Endorphins and serotonin help to maintain a healthy emotional and physical state. The Chinese acupuncture theory is that it is a way of balancing the flow of energy or life force — known as chi or qi (chee) — believed to flow through pathways (meridians) in your body. Practitioners believe that through the insertion of needles into specific points along these meridians, your energy flow will re-balance.
Western practitioners are more pragmatic. They suggest that acupuncture stimulates muscles, nerves, and connective tissue. As a result, the body’s capacity to produce natural painkillers receives a boost.
Acupuncture and Pain Medication
Acupuncture treatment may provide additional pain relief when patients are receiving other therapies such as massages and using pain medicine. However, over the course of time, acupuncture may lower the need for pain medication. Lowering the reliance on pain medications can help improve the quality of life of people with chronic pain. As always, it is advisable to consult your attending general practitioner before trying anything new.
The Acupuncture Procedure
There are three primary components of acupuncture procedures: needle insertion, needle manipulation, and needle removal. When inserting the needles, a licensed acupuncturist will inspect and locate acupuncture points in many places on the body. In fact, some acupuncture points aren’t close to the pain locale. The practitioner will then explain where and why they are inserting needles in specific locations.
During the insertion process, the needles are inserted into strategic points on your body at different depths. It is hard to feel the needles, as they are thin and cause little or no discomfort. Once the needles reach the correct depth, however, you may experience a dull ache. Between 5 and 20 needles are used in a typical acupuncture session.
During needle manipulation, the practitioner may move the needles or twist them. Alternatively, the acupuncturist may apply heat or mild electrical pulses to the needles. Again, there is no real pain, but possibly a sensation.
Needles are removed after 10 to 20 minutes. Acupuncture needle removal does not hurt.
Here is a list of the different situations in which acupuncture can provide pain relief for.
Lower Back Pain
Acupuncture in conjunction with ongoing treatment and medicine can ease chronic low-back pain (long-term pain). However, researchers are not yet certain of what the short-term effects are.
Acupuncture is popular for treating and relieving tension headaches and migraines. It appears to widen the timeframe in between headaches.
Acupuncture does give relief from dental pain, tooth extraction, and dental surgery. Many acupuncture patients can and will testify to this.
Acupuncture, used in long-term treatments such as chemotherapy, has brought a degree. It is also helpful for respiratory conditions such as allergic rhinitis. Osteoarthritis patients do also benefit from acupuncture as well as patients with neck pain, menstrual cramping, and labor pain.
Additional Reading: Does Acupuncture Promote Healing?
Southlake Natural Family Wellness
Our mission is to support the health and well-being of our patients by offering individualized, comprehensive holistic care including acupuncture, herbal recommendations, customized nutritional counseling, allergy elimination (NAET), whole food supplements, lifestyle suggestions, moxibustion, and cupping, as well as helping couples get pregnant and STAY pregnant by supporting all the paths to conception.
About Farrah Hamraie
Farrah Hamraie, L.Ac, MOM, Dipl.OM (NCCAOM), is licensed and board-certified in Acupuncture and Herbal medicine in the State of Texas with a Masters of Oriental Medicine from the Dallas College of Oriental Medicine. She is also a Diplomat of NCCAOM (the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine), a Board Certified Acupuncturist, Chinese Herbalist, and a member of the American Association of Oriental Medicine.