Frequently asked Questions about Acupuncture


Who has Acupuncture?
Many people come to acupuncture to help with specific symptoms or to relieve specific pains like osteoarthritis of the knee.  Some use acupuncture because they feel generally unwell but have no obvious diagnosis.  Others choose acupuncture simply to enhance their feeling of well-being.  Acupuncture is considered suitable for all ages including babies and children.  It can be used effectively alongside conventional medicine.

Many people return to acupuncture again and again because they find it so beneficial and relaxing.

More information on current scientific research in the effectiveness of acupuncture can be found from www.acupuncture.org.uk

Is Acupuncture Painful?
Acupuncture needles are about the thickness of a hair, therefore the insertion is often totally painless, though there may sometimes be a brief pinching sensation like a mosquito bite. Most practitioners use acupuncture needles with an insertion tube to assist the painless entry of the needle through the skin.

Once the needle is inserted, sensations of tingling, heaviness, pressure, warmth or coolness may be felt, indicating the gathering and movement of energy in the meridians. None of these sensations are painful. In general, acupuncture is very calming, and patients often report that they enter a state of deep relaxation or sleep. 

Are the Acupuncture Needles sterile?
Acupuncture needles are made of stainless steel and are pre-sterilized and individually packaged. These needles are used only once and are disposed of after each treatment.

Is there anything I should do to prepare prior to the treatment?
It is best to avoid eating a large meal just before your acupuncture treatment, as well as having gone for a long period without food and coming to your appointment hungry. It is optimal to have eaten a small meal or snack 1-3 hours prior to your treatment. When possible, wear clothing that is loose and comfortable. Your treatment should be a time for relaxation and healing, so you may be asked to turn off your mobile phone.

What should I expect after the treatment?
It is common for people to report feeling very relaxed after an acupuncture treatment, even a little “spacey” for a short while. Some experience a change in symptoms immediately after their treatment, but treatment effects are commonly felt later that day or the following day. For some chronic problems, it may take more than one treatment to see a significant change, while for others, a shift may happen more quickly.

Some people feel quite energized after acupuncture, while others experience a dip in energy as their body’s internal healing processes are stimulated. You may go back to work after your treatment, but ideally one should go slowly for a few hours to give the body a chance to integrate the changes stimulated by the treatment. Try not to stress, and avoid scheduling an aerobic workout immediately after acupuncture. It is quite common to feel the need to sleep both during and after a treatment.

Should my doctor know?
If you have been prescribed medication we recommend you tell your doctor that you are planning to have acupuncture. Do not stop taking your mediation. You should always tell your acupuncturist about any medication and supplements you are taking as this may affect your response to the acupuncture treatment. It is vital that you tell your practitioner if you suffer from any diseases transmissible by blood (e.g. HIV, AIDS, hepatitis etc.) or if you are on any blood thinning medication. These facts should come out during our Case History discussion, but you must disclose them.

BAcC acupuncturists are trained to recognise potentially serious underlying health conditions and may refer you to your GP if they consider it appropriate.  Consent to contact your GP will always be obtained and no contact will be made without the patient’s consent.

Should I discontinue my prescribed medication if I begin to feel better after acupuncture treatment?
The unequivocal answer to this is No! The decision to prescribe medication is made by your GP, having evaluated your condition and based on many years of training and clinical experience. You should never change your medication regimen without consulting your GP and getting his/her agreement.

Is it safe?
The results of two independent surveys published in the British Medical Journal in 2001 (MacPherson et al and White et al) concluded that the risk of serious adverse reaction to acupuncture is less than 1 in 10,000. The needles used are single-use, sterile, and disposable. Responses to treatment can sometimes include tiredness or mild dizziness, and very occasionally minor bruising may occur. However, all such reactions are temporary.