When you mention the word 'Acupuncture' to most people, their first reaction is a scared look and an awkward silence. Next comes the sentence 'That's needles right....?' I smile and say 'Yes! But they are so tiny, only the width of two strands of hair!' I keep smiling, looking hopefully at them and waiting to see if they will agree to give it a try. Some clients are at the point where they are willing to try anything to relieve some of the pain and some are more reluctant and confess to a fear of needles. I'd like to think I've reduced a few people's fear of needles over the nine years that I have been practicing acupuncture.
Now, I can't say I get excited about having injections or blood taken, but it's sometimes necessary and you just get it done. It's hardly the highlight of my day though. However, these kind of needles are completely different from the type used during an acupuncture treatment session. Acupuncture needles are usually made from stainless steel, which makes them flexible and prevents rusting. Each needle comes in an individual sterile packet and is for single use only. Once the needle is removed from the client, they are placed into a sharps container for incineration to prevent contamination. Needles vary in length from 13mm to 130mm, the shorter needles are used for the hands and face and the longer for areas such as glutes and thighs.
The main aspect of acupuncture training involves having your fellow course-mates /colleagues prick you from head to toe in the name of professional development. I was the lucky one (or not) who got to stick the first acupuncture needle into my boss, who had a self confessed needle phobia, which may or may not include possible fainting...... Anyway I took the bull by its horns and inserted the needle into her hand (LI 4 to be exact for any Acupuncturists reading this), she let out a squeal and started to cry....yikes! I'm about to get fired! Two seconds later she looked up and said 'Actually its not painful at all, I don't know why I'm crying'. I breathed a sign of relief that I didn't have to start looking for a new job. She then smiled and said "I have a needle in me! I'm not scared of needles anymore!' She then completed the course and had numerous further needles inserted and no more tears. Goal achieved!
My clients are always surprised at how little they can feel the needle being inserted. I tell them they might feel a slight prick as the needle breaks through the outer later of the skin, but once the needle has gone through the sensitive surface layer of the skin there is usually very little discomfort. Many clients don't even feel some of the needles as I put them in. You actually want to feel some kind of a sensation after the needle is inserted, like a dull ache or heat in the area, sometimes tingling and throbbing is felt also. As long as the sensation is not a sharp pain I'm happy! I always ask if my client is comfortable after I have inserted all of the needles and if any need adjusting. This helps my client to feel more at ease and able to relax during the treatment.
The other fear is that they think they are going to loose a lot of blood.... 'Do they bleed when you take them out? How much blood am I going to loose?' I try not to laugh and say most of them don't bleed at all when the needle is removed, but one or two may leave a speck of blood the same as if you pricked your finger with a sewing needle. Not a big deal. I use a cotton bud stick when removing them and apply a gentle pressure to the surrounding tissue, which decreases any bleeding from the needle site.
It's interesting how previous needle phobics have a sense of achievement after having their first acupuncture treatment and that they survived to tell the tale to any friends and family who will listen to their reports of being 'tough' and 'strong'. Well done guys for taking the plunge, it really wasn't that bad was it? And the number who come back with positive reports of less pain, sleeping better and feeling more relaxed is just a bonus right?
So hopefully this has helped reduce any fears regarding acupuncture and may encourage you to get out there and give it a try. Check out my webpage regarding acupuncture and what it can be used to treat. If you have any further questions, please comment below or contact me.
Good luck stepping out of your comfort zone and try something new!
Who's up next then? Any takers?