Acupuncture FAQs

Does acupuncture hurt?

Most people describe the sensation of acupuncture needles as mild. Many report they don’t feel the needles at all. For most people acupuncture is actually a relaxing experience.

What is a typical acupuncture treatment like?

For routine acupuncture visits, you should allow about 60 minutes. Each treatment session starts with a brief assessment of symptoms and progress since the last visit. The type of acupuncture treatment and the points may be modified as the treatment progresses. The needles are gently inserted, stimulated, then left in place for typically 20-30 minutes. During this time the patient rests, listens to music, dozes or reads.

When the needles are removed, typically there is no mark left. Occasionally the skin or tissue may bruise or feel itchy, achy or sore afterward. These are normal reactions, temporary, and not a reason for any undue concern.

How many treatments will I need and how often will I need to come?

The number of treatments needed depends on the type of problem. Issues that have been around for a long time, i.e., chronic, initially require treatments that are close enough together and continued for a period of time in order to create the sustained physiologic effect needed to resolve the problem.

For a chronic problem, a good initial treatment is 2 times per week for 6 weeks. This will show if the issue is one that will respond easily to acupuncture, and for many problems it will be enough to improve them significantly. Some chronic problems will resolve with less than this. Problems that are new, such as an ankle sprain or a cold or flu, may only require a few treatments to help them start to resolve more quickly.

Do I have to continue treatment in order to stay better?

Whether or not some maintenance treatment is needed depends on the underlying nature of the problem. It is common for a problem that was chronic to remain much better even for years after an initial course of treatment. Others need some maintenance such as a treatment once monthly to help them stay better.

Does acupuncture always work?

While acupuncture is even effective for many conditions that have not responded to other therapies, it does not work for every person.

Do I have to believe in acupuncture for it to work?

No. Acupuncture works fine in animals, for instance. Many of the research studies on acupuncture’s effects have been done in animals. Two schools of veterinary medicine in the United States have training programs for veterinary doctors who want to learn how to use acupuncture to help their animal patients.

Are there side effects and risks to acupuncture?

In the hands of trained physicians, the side effects and risks of acupuncture are very low. Placing needles into the body must be done with care and proper medical training. Occasionally there can be bruising or temporary heightening of symptoms. These all resolve as treatment continues and are not reasons for undue concern.

The most serious possible side effects of acupuncture are organ puncture and infection. When acupuncture is performed by a physician and with single use, sterile, disposable needles, these are very rare. In general, medical acupuncture therapy is even more safe than many over-the-counter medicines.

How will I feel after a treatment?

Most people find acupuncture very relaxing and frequently feel very calm after a treatment.

How quickly can I expect to feel better?

Many conditions will start to show improvement with the first treatment. Others will naturally be slower to respond, and some problems won’t show improvement until 6 – 8 treatments.

Can acupuncture treatment help with non-physical problems?

Acupuncture can be helpful for anxiety, depression, moodiness, anger problems and sleep issues.

Should I tell my doctor I am going to acupuncture?

In general, it is helpful for you and your doctor to be aware of all the therapies you are having. Dr. Burgoon will be happy to speak with your doctor, if you like.

I am taking prescription medication. Should I keep taking it?

Yes, continue your regular medicines. As treatment proceeds, it may be possible to gradually reduce or discontinue some medicines. You and Dr. Burgoon can discuss this. The goal for each patient is individual.

Can I benefit from acupuncture even when I’m not sick?

Yes. Acupuncture can be helpful in maintaining good health and preventing problems.

Is acupuncture safe for children?

Yes, and it can be very beneficial in treating many childhood problems. The acupuncture techniques used for children are very gentle.

Do you use herbs in conjunction with acupuncture?

Yes. The two together can be very beneficial for some conditions. Many conditions respond well with just acupuncture alone.

How do herbs differ from Western medicine?

Unlike modern pharmaceuticals that contain single, isolated agents, herbal medicines contain many biologically active ingredients in small amounts. Although herbal medicines are natural, they are medicines and need to be used with care and knowledge in order to be safe and effective.

Can I take Chinese herbs when I am on medication?

While herbs can be used together with many modern medicines, there are some modern pharmaceuticals that should not be mixed with certain herbal medicines. Be sure to let Dr. Burgoon know all of the medicines you are taking, including over the counter medicines and supplements or herbs