Health Blog

Is Acupuncture Right for Me When I’m Afraid of Needles?

Tips March 30, 2020

How would you like a treatment that helps reduce stress, improve digestion, enhance sleep quality, and boost energy? While this may sound tempting, we understand that if you’re afraid of needles, you may be averse to the treatment that can offer you these — acupuncture.

Acupuncture comes with many benefits, but we know there are some who cringe at the thought of needles piercing their bodies even for just a short while. However, just because you do not like the sight of needles does not necessarily mean acupuncture is not for you.

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicinal practice that involves the insertion of extremely thin needles (about .25mm in circumference) into strategic points of the body. These needles are placed in any of the 365 identified points believed to induce relaxation.

Acupuncturists are guided by their knowledge of different treatment points and should have precise hand movements so the needles penetrate the skin just the right way for effective treatment of various ailments.

Depending on the need, acupuncture needles may be heated or stimulated with electricity. These will stay in place for 5 to 30 minutes, depending on the treatment. The few minutes of acupuncture is believed to allow blood flow and neural pathways to be restored so you feel better and healthier.

Patients can expect to feel a brief stinging pain or dull ache during treatment but the treatment typically causes minimal pain and discomfort.

The number of acupuncture sessions a patient will need depends largely on how he responds to the treatment. A handful of people express seeing significant differences in a matter of one to 2 treatments while others take longer to experience improvement in the affected area. An acupuncturist may suggest further medical investigation and reconsideration if the patient reports no improvement by the end of the fifth or sixth treatment.

What Are the Benefits of Acupuncture?

For the Chinese, this treatment follows the theory of qi or life energy that flows throughout the body. If there are any disruptions to these energies, the person can experience pain and diseases.

Acupuncture is commonly used for treating pain. Several studies suggest that this practice can help patients with various conditions including osteoarthritis, lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and neck pain.

Acupuncture can also be used to help with metabolism, heart rate, blood circulation, blood pressure, immune function, and gastrointestinal motility. Others suggest that this can also help patients manage stress and improve their overall well-being.

Are Acupuncture Needles Similar to Hypodermic Needles?

Whether you have a moderate fear of needles or a full-blown phobia but are looking to try it out and asking yourself, “Is acupuncture right for me?”, experts can attest there’s nothing to worry about. For one, acupuncture needles are nothing like hypodermic needles.

The needles used in hospitals are hollow and designed to inject or extract substances into or from the body. Their function makes it necessary for them to be of larger circumference. In comparison, acupuncture needles are not hollow, making it possible for them to do their job while being much thinner compared to their hypodermic counterparts. To illustrate, the circumference of a single hypodermic needle is equivalent to that of up to 16 acupuncture needles. Because of this, they do not result in pain.

How Do I Manage My Fear of Needles?

Here are a few ways you can address your fear:

  • Understand that fear is common

Everyone has something they fear no matter what age. According to research, about 22% of the world’s population has a fear of needles.

  • Prepare yourself

One of the best ways to ease the feeling of walking into an acupuncture clinic is to prepare for it. To ease the jitters, do something that you enjoy like reading a relaxing book or taking a leisurely walk before your treatment schedule.

  • Eat properly

It is advised that patients eat something 2 hours before their treatment. The meal should not be heavy since it can cause discomfort during treatment. Undergoing the procedure on an empty stomach can cause dizziness during or after treatment and is not advised.

  • Skip the coffee

Caffeine increases the body’s fight-or-flight response and can heighten feelings of anxiety. The goal of acupuncture is to aid in relaxation for natural healing energies to flow; caffeine offsets this, reducing the efficacy of the procedure.

  • Tell your acupuncturist of medicines or supplements you are taking

Some medicines or supplements could counter the effects or potentially harm patients who want to undergo acupuncture treatments. Talk to your acupuncturist regarding these medicines before pushing through with the treatment.

  • Go to an experienced acupuncturists

In Canada, the regulation and education of acupuncturists vary from one province to another. In Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Newfoundland, and Quebec, traditional acupuncturists are regulated. If you are in a province where the treatment is not regulated, do your due diligence and check the background and level of expertise of your potential acupuncturists.

  • Communicate with your acupuncturist

The best way to ease your fears is to trust your acupuncturist. Find someone you are comfortable with and communicate your fears with him. These professionals are trained to give treatments and deal with patients who are anxious about needles. They will listen to you when you tell them about your hesitations.

Additionally, they can help design personalized treatments for you to address your unique issues and concerns. Communication plays a great role in making acupuncture sessions more bearable regardless of whether you fear needles or not.

  • Know that acupuncture is not always about needles

Contrary to popular belief, this treatment option may not always involve needles. Acupuncturists can also offer treatments like acupressure, ear seeds, cupping, gua sha, qigong, and others — all of which do not involve needles. Ask about these options.

If you or anyone you love is experiencing chronic pain, one of our acupuncturists from Brampton Physiocare & Wellness Clinic may help you. We cater to patients looking for help with back and neck pain, headaches and migraines, stress management, insomnia, and chemotherapy effects management among others.

Our acupuncturists have years of experience in this field. We have handled patients who may have the same fear of needles as you or your loved ones. If you have questions or are ready to take your first step to wellness, you may schedule a booking an appointment by filling in our contact us form. You may also give us a ring at (905) 497-1311 or (905) 454-4975. You may also visit our clinics at 51 Mountainash Road, Unit 9 Brampton, ON, L6R 1W4 and 9845 Chinguacousy Road, Unit 1 Brampton, ON, L6X 0V1.