Acupuncture is a relatively low-risk pain management tool with very few risks. When selecting an acupuncture practitioner, investigate their qualifications, licensure, and practices to find the right one. Your insurance company may or may not cover this treatment option, so you may need to pay out of pocket for it. You typically need multiple acupuncture sessions to feel pain relief, which can become expensive. Each session lasts sixty to ninety minutes, discussing your symptoms and concerns with the practitioner and the actual procedure.
Acupuncture may relieve discomfort and pain associated with:
- Chemotherapy side effects
- Dental pain
- Labor pain
- Low back pain
- Neck pain
- Respiratory disorders
- Low-risk procedure with few side effects compared to other treatment options
You should consult with a medical practitioner before undergoing acupuncture. Your doctor may ask you to stop taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), immunosuppressant medication, and blood thinners to reduce your risk of serious complications or infections. This procedure should not be performed if the patient has an active infection or symptoms of a cold, flu, or similar malady. While acupuncture may help alleviate some of your symptoms, you should not seek treatment until you are no longer contagious.
Once you arrive at your acupuncture appointment, you will discuss your symptoms and concerns with the licensed practitioner. They will review the procedure with you before starting the insertion of the needles. You may need to sit or lay down on the table, depending on where the practitioner will insert the needles. Before inserting the sterile needles, the practitioner will sterilize the skin where they will insert the needles. They will then insert the needles at various depths and locations on the body. The practitioner may gently move or twirl the needles or apply heat or mild electrical pulses once the needles are in place.
The needles typically remain in your skin for about ten to twenty minutes before their removal.
You may experience some soreness, minor bleeding, and bruising where the practitioner inserts the needles. Once the practitioner removes all the needles, you can return home with no changes to your medication or activity schedule.
There are relatively few risks and complications arising from undergoing acupuncture treatment. Some complications include:
- Infection or bleeding at insertion site
- Infection caused by non-sterile needles or other unsanitary practices
- Punctured organs
- Collapsed lung
- Central nervous system injuries
You can reduce your risk by only receiving acupuncture from a licensed practitioner. You should never try acupuncture yourself. If you have a bleeding disorder, pacemaker, or are pregnant or suspect you may be pregnant, talk to your healthcare professional to determine if this treatment is right for you.