Pacific College of Oriental Medicine Faculty Member and LAc Dr. Mohammad Javaherian (or Dr. J) is here to to share all the details you want to know before your first acupuncture experience.
Patient: I’m nervous about trying acupuncture, but I hear it’s pretty safe…what can you tell me about it?
Dr. J: Don’t be nervous! The number one goal of acupuncture is to make you, as the patient, feel calm and relaxed; it’s definitely not meant to be an uncomfortable experience. Acupuncture is a very safe method of treatment; it goes back thousands of years and has proven results across societies from East to West.
Patient: But I really don’t like needles…..
Dr. J: A lot of people don’t like needles, but our needles are different from hypodermic needles. Acupuncture needles are thin, not hollow, and don’t cause much, if any, pain or discomfort. We will put the first needle somewhere that’s not sensitive, to get rid of that mental fear. Most people don’t feel the needles at all! All needles are sterile and disposable, only used once, so no chance of cross contamination.
Patient: Before my first treatment, what should I do, or bring with me?
Dr. J: Before an acupuncture appointment you should make sure you eat something so you don’t have an empty stomach. Also, bring any medical records with you, blood work, or anything related to the condition you’re being treated for.
Patient: What should I wear?
Dr. J: You should wear loose clothing that’s easy to move around. No jeans, tight clothing, or jewelry.
Patient: How long is it going to take?
Dr. J: Your first session will take at least an hour and a half, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time so you’re not rushed. Also, don’t plan a lot of activities for that day; take it easy and relax.
Patient: What are they going to ask me?
Dr. J: The acupuncturist will ask you questions about where you have pain, but also more general questions about your energy level, sleep, appetite, elimination, head/nose/throat, digestion, menstrual cycle, and emotional status.
Patient: Why do they need to ask me all those details?
Dr. J: Our questions have to do with getting a better understanding of your whole body. In Chinese medicine, we don’t treat just symptoms, we treat the person as a whole.
Patient: What will it feel like? Will it hurt?
Dr. J: You may feel a small pinch or a little numbness around the area, but it should be mostly painless. If the needles are uncomfortable at all, we will remove them right away. Acupuncture is meant to be relaxing.
Patient: What about side effects?
Dr. J: Acupuncture is very safe and there’s not much as far as side effects. There may be bruising occasionally or sensitivity at the points; some patients feel a little light headed, but that’s rare and also why you should plan a relaxing day following your treatment.
Do you have an acupuncture question for Dr. J? Comment on our post and let us know!