What Conditions Might It Help Treat?
Acupuncture may be part of treatment for chronic pain, such as:
- Low back, neck, or muscle pain
- Pain after surgery
Some studies have shown it to be an effective treatment for:
- Dental pain
- Nausea from chemotherapy
More studies are needed to see how well it works for headaches, pain from shingles, facial pain, and as an aid to quit smoking.
You shouldn’t rely on acupuncture to treat a chronic or serious illness unless you see a doctor first. Acupuncture may not be the best way to improve your condition. Or it could OK for you, but it doesn’t replace other medical care, such as physical therapy or medication. For certain conditions, such as cancer, you should get acupuncture only in combination with other treatments.
What Happens During a Session
The person who treats you is called an acupuncturist. He’ll swab each area with alcohol before tapping a very thin needle into the site. The number of needles you’ll get, where they’re placed, and how deeply they’re inserted depends upon your particular case.
The needles will stay in place for several minutes to an hour. The acupuncturist may adjust, warm, or electrically energize them to intensify the effect. You may feel some tingling if electricity is used. It should be mild, and you can ask your acupuncturist to dial it down at
You may need to get more than one session.
Does Acupuncture Hurt?
No. You may feel a slight prick when the needle is inserted, but it is much less than the prick you feel during a shot, since the needles are much thinner. You may feel a heaviness, numbness, tingling, or mild soreness after the needles have been put in.
Is It Safe?
Yes. When acupuncture is done with disposable needles under clean, sterile conditions, and by a qualified practitioner, complications are very unlikely.
What Are the Advantages of It?
It’s a drug-free way to ease pain. You can’t get addicted to it. And the acupuncturist can immediately see how you respond and make any changes as needed.
Does the Medical Establishment Approve of It?
Yes. There are about 28,000 licensed acupuncturists in the U.S. Also, the World Health Organization recognizes about 30 medical problems, ranging from allergies to pain, that can be helped by acupuncture treatment. The FDA also sees acupuncture needles as medical devices.
Will My Health Insurance Policy Cover It?
Some insurance companies will pay for this treatment. So check with your plan.
How Often Should I Get Acupuncture?
It depends on your condition and how well it works for you. Because it may take several sessions before you feel a benefit, plan to go at least 5-10 times.
Are There Any Restrictions on What I Can Do After a Treatment?