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How is acupuncture done?

Thumbtack Editors

Acupuncture takes place inside a practitioner's office, much like an exam in a private room in a traditional doctor’s office. At the beginning of an acupuncture session, your acupuncturist will discuss your overall health and ask what’s bothering you. Often acupuncture is used for pain relief, prevention of illness, and the treatment of chronic health concerns. If it’s your first visit to the acupuncturist, they’ll ask comprehensive questions about your lifestyle, emotional health, diet, and family health to map out your health history. In addition to the information you share verbally, the acupuncturist may take your pulse from various positions at your wrist, may perform a standard physical exam, and may inspect your reflexes, tongue and inner ears. This physical information provides the acupuncturist with additional insights about your overall health and helps guide your treatment. 

As you lie on the treatment table, the acupuncturist will tap very thin needles into your skin at different points to stimulate various areas of your body. The American Academy of Acupuncture explains that the needles encourage the body to promote natural healing and improve functioning. Heat or electrical stimulation may also be applied at precise acupuncture points — although frequently, treatment is solely done using needles. During an acupuncture session, patients lie in a relaxed position with the needles in place for five to 30 minutes or more. In general, acupuncture is a relaxing experience and the offices are designed to help you feel at ease. The needles used in acupuncture are very thin and sterile, and insertion is not typically a painful experience. Most people feel no discomfort; patients often fall asleep during the treatment. In subsequent sessions, the acupuncturist builds on the patient’s existing plan and changes the treatment (or placement of needles) based on current health. 

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