Are you curious about trying acupuncture in Edmonton – but not entirely sure what to expect? Questions like: Does it hurt? How long is the session? What do the needles feel like? are fairly common for those new to the practice. That’s okay! The team at Ikigai Integrative is here to help.
Let’s take a deep dive into what an acupuncture experience is like – starting before the first needle is ever placed.
The Initial Assessment
At our acupuncture practice, we begin every appointment with an initial assessment. We ask you a series of questions about your current concerns, and will touch on your physical and mental well being.
The preliminary consultation also includes a few elements which may feel less traditional. For example, your acupuncturist may take your pulse and ask to look at your tongue – although we’re sure to walk you through what we’re doing as we do it. These measurements help locate any imbalances within your body and further guide the course of treatment.
After any follow-up questions, your therapist will let you know what areas they need access to, such as your back, knees, or feet. Then, they will leave the room to give you privacy while you disrobe as required.
Placement Of The First Needle
Once you are ready, your session truly begins. Your therapist will carefully sanitize their hands before getting started and then adjust your body. This may mean carefully moving different areas into a more accessible position, and they may use their hands to locate specific meridian points.
All needles used in acupuncture come in pre-sterilized and sealed packages, which are only opened immediately before use. The acupuncturist will also use a cotton ball soaked with rubbing alcohol to sterilize the skin before they place the needle. This guarantees its medically safe, with no risk of infection.
Once everything is situated and sterilized, it’s time for your therapist to insert the first needle. You may feel a small pinprick, or with thicker needles, you may feel a pinching sensation or pressure.
Once the needle is inserted, your therapist gently stimulates it until the qi is activated. Then, the therapist will continue to insert the needles into different points around your body as the treatment requires.
How Long Does Acupuncture Take?
Now it’s time to let the therapy do its work. The needle portion of each appointment only takes about 20 to 45 minutes, but that’s just a fraction of your therapy session. Our appointments last anywhere from 50 to 80 minutes, depending on our target audience.
Once all the needles are set, your therapist will quietly leave the room to allow the treatment to take effect. Don’t worry! You will be provided with a call button that can be used to call your practitioner if you have any questions or concerns. This quiet time offers a moment of deep relaxation, where the meridian stimulation rebalances areas of stagnation.
Trained therapists may also include other healing modalities such as reiki or psychotherapy, based on your previous consultation.
At the end of your appointment, your therapist will quickly remove each needle and safely dispose of them.
Does Acupuncture Hurt?
This is a question we get a lot, and one we are happy to answer. There are a lot of different sensations from acupuncture, but acupuncture needles should never hurt.
Throughout your session, you may begin to experience different sensations at each needle location. Some meridian points feel like nothing, while others may begin to dully ache or burn. Some people even experience warming sensations at specific points.
But again, you should never ever feel pain.
We always encourage our patients to ask questions during the session. If you experience any uncomfortable sensations, we need to know. We may adjust or remove needles in rare situations when they are quite literally hitting a nerve.
After your treatment, it’s normal to experience a small amount of bleeding and/or bruising – although it’s nothing to worry about. You may feel energized, lightheaded, or even a little ‘high’ after your treatment – this is also normal and depends on the individual.
It’s normal to have questions about how to approach the rest of your day after your acupuncture session. Here are some ways to care for yourself when you’re back at home:
- Rest up! Having a restful day free of heavy exercise and stressful activities is ideal. Rest helps your body continue to heal and further reinforces the positive benefits of your acupuncture session. If you feel extra energized, lean into it – but be sure to listen to your body’s natural cues.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol. It’s important to be attuned to how your body is feeling after your acupuncture session. Alcohol and caffeine can alter your senses – which may distort the effects of your session.
- Eat nourishing meals. Unprocessed foods high in antioxidants and fibre are ideal after an acupuncture session. These foods help keep you sated while promoting healing and a clear mind.
Ultimately, the idea is to maximize the effects of acupuncture by caring for our mind and bodies. Journaling, yoga, massage therapy, enjoying a good book, and reducing screen time are all other excellent ways to practice caring for your mind after acupuncture.
Take note of how you feel in the days after and share them with your acupuncturist during your next visit, this helps them keep track of your progress and adjust their approach as needed.
Note: Be sure to communicate with your practitioner about how you’re feeling immediately after your session. If you feel ill, you may need a small something to eat and some water to restore your energy levels.
Ikigai Integrative: Edmonton’s Acupuncture Experts
We provide our clients with an integrative approach, creating a highly individualized psychotherapy and acupuncture-focused treatment plan for every patient. Together, we can help restore the mind-body connection and improve the overall wellbeing of our patients.