What's it like: To get treated with acupuncture

Acupuncture can help stimulate nerves and muscles, which can help increase blood flow and your body's production of chemicals to relieve pain, practitioners say.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: December 16, 2012

During acupuncture, you might bleed at the spot where the needle is inserted. You also might experience dizziness. There is a rare risk that the needle will go too deep and harm you. This is a risk factor in pediatric patients as well. For example, a needle in the chest can go too deep and puncture a lung. This rarely happens but is a risk.

Also, it's important to go an acupuncture practitioner with good sterile practices. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires that the needles be sterile, nontoxic and labeled for single use. If a needle is reused, it can expose you to disease and infection.

And it's recommend that you not see an acupuncture practitioner if you're pregnant. There's concern that it could cause you to go into early delivery.

What's the recovery time?

Some people begin to feel the benefits of acupuncture after a day or after a second treatment. Others feel the treatment's effects immediately. It will depend on what type of condition you suffer from and how extensive your treatment is.

If you don't find relief after a few sessions, acupuncture might not be right for you.

What's the follow-up?

The number of sessions depends largely on what you're being treated for. You likely will go once a week, ranging anywhere from two treatments to 12 treatments. For some severe conditions, your acupuncturist might recommend you come once a week for a year.

Source: Amit Gumman, acupuncturist at Harmony Healing Center; The Mayo Clinic: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine; National Cancer Institute; American Cancer Society.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, medicine and fitness, among other things. She graduated from Oklahoma State University with a news-editorial and broadcast production degree. Outside of work, she enjoys riding her bike, taking pictures of...
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