Top 6 Acupuncture Myths

It’s summer, YAY! Which means there are many social activities happening in Chicago including festivals, bbqs, parties and movies in the park. I love meeting new people and hearing a little bit about what they’re “up to” in their lives. When people learn what I do, inevitably they have questions about acupuncture so I thought I would address them here and bust a few acupuncture myths.

1. Acupuncture hurts (the MOST common question!)

Many people hear the word “needle” and they think, OUCH! But in fact, the needles are very, very small. Upon insertion it can feel like a mosquito bite, but that sensation is transitory and once the needle is in place most people don’t feel anything at all.

2. Acupuncture is folk medicine and has no scientific basis

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have been around for 5,000 years, much longer than the mainstream medicine we know today. Many studies are now able to map acupuncture pathways and some progressive hospitals (and even the military) now offer some type of acupuncture service. The National Institute of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recognize acupuncture as a valid treatment for a wide variety of health conditions.

3. Acupuncture conflicts with medication, physical therapy or other mainstream “conventional” medical treatments

Acupuncture works great with other health care modalities and it can often facilitate faster healing to get the patient to their health goal faster. Depending on the chief complaint, I often encourage and refer some of my patients to chiropractors, physical or massage therapists.

 4. Acupuncture is only useful for pain

Yes acupuncture helps to relieve many types of body pain (back pain, knee pain, etc), but it is also used to treat many other types of internal health issues as well like headaches, digestive disorders, diarrhea and constipation, women’s health, fertility and acne (just to name a few!).

 5. Once you start acupuncture, you’ll always need it

False, some people get better with only 3 treatments. However, chronic conditions that have been going on awhile don’t get corrected in 1 acupuncture treatment. Much like healthy eating or training for a marathon, acupuncture results are cumulative and can take a little time for the body to adjust.  For chronic conditions some people stay on a maintenance schedule. Ultimately I try to work myself out of job so whatever health issue you came in with is alleviated and then just come in for “tune ups” as needed.

 6My PT or chiropractor does acupuncture, how is it different?

People that do what I do are Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners. Acupuncture and herbal medicine (among other things) are the most popular and well know modalities that are included in that scope of practice. With 4 years of training we look at the body from a holistic view of Chinese medical theory that includes the physical structure, but also the physiological processes and energetics of the body. A PT or a chiropractors training in acupuncture is equivalent to basically 1 class in our entire 4 year curriculum so it’s a very different approach and they focus mostly on muscle motor points to treat musculoskeletal issues. Please know the credentials of the person needling you and make sure they are a licensed acupuncturist.

Feel free to email me with any questions or other acupuncture queries!

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