9 Common Questions & Concerns About Acupuncture Therapy

Dr. Dimitrios Lambrou Mar 21, 2022

Acupuncture therapy is a safe method for relieving pain and reducing inflammation. Acupuncture can also improve circulation and help with wound healing. This therapy is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years. However, people new to acupuncture often have questions about what to expect during and after a session. Our team is happy to discuss any of your questions or concerns. Keep reading to find the answers to nine common questions about acupuncture. 

1. Can You Combine Acupuncture With Other Services?

a chiropractor stretches out a patient’s back

Yes, many patients combine acupuncture with other services. Pairing acupuncture with other treatments may increase the benefits of both. Acupuncture can be a valuable add-on service to:

  • Chiropractic care
  • Physical therapy 
  • Cold laser therapy 

For example, acupuncture combined with chiropractic care can be a minimally invasive, drug-free and effective treatment for back pain. And acupuncture paired with physical therapy may offer relief for difficult-to-treat conditions such as neuropathy. 

Acupuncture can ease pain and speed recovery, making it a helpful add-on for significant treatments like surgery. And in many cases, acupuncture is beneficial as a stand-alone therapy for chronic pain, inflammation and anxiety. Our doctors can help determine the best combination of services for you. 

2. Does Acupuncture Work for Treating Mental Health Conditions? 

three cutouts of faces include a red sad face, a yellow straight face, and a green smiley face with a finger pointing over the green smiley face to represent positive mental health

Acupuncture may have a positive effect on many common mental health conditions, including: 

  • Depression
  • Anxiety 
  • Post-traumatic stress 

Research has shown that acupuncture can increase endorphins, which may relieve pain and improve mental health. 

3. What Should You Wear to an Acupuncture Session?

a woman is looking in the mirror and removing makeup with a cotton pad in preparation for an acupuncture appointment

Loose, comfortable clothing is ideal. Although acupuncture shouldn't cause pain or soreness, clothing that lets you be comfortable and relax during and after the session will ensure that you get the maximum benefit from your session. Loose clothing also gives the acupuncturist access to your skin. 

However, you can wear almost anything to your acupuncture session. The acupuncture needles must be placed directly in your skin and not through clothing. Depending on your clothing and acupuncture therapy, you may need to remove some of your clothing. You will lie under a towel sheet for your session. Note that acupuncture often takes place on many parts of the body, not just an injured area. 

Sports bras aren't recommended because the acupuncturist may need to unclasp your bra to access your back. You can wear makeup, but the acupuncturist will gently clean small areas of your face before placing needles. 

4. How Long Does Acupuncture Take?

a wall clock displays on a blue wall

The length of each acupuncture session depends on your needs and the recommendations of your acupuncturist. Treatment sessions generally take up to one hour. 

Your acupuncturist will carefully place needles in your skin at pressure points. The necessary pressure points and the number of needles may vary depending on your condition, and they may also differ from session to session. You can speak with your acupuncture provider about how much time to allow for each session. Allow some time before and after the treatment session to change clothing if needed and speak with your therapist about follow-up care. 

Some patients may just have one acupuncture session in conjunction with another therapy. However, acupuncture's maximum benefits are typically achieved through regular sessions that take place over several months or longer. 

5. How Often Should You Get Acupuncture? 

a person gets a needle in their face from acupuncture treatment

How often a patient should get acupuncture depends on their health and the condition being treated. Sessions might be weekly, monthly or something in between. 

Generally, frequent regular acupuncture sessions provide the most improvement. Regular sessions can also help patients attain long-term benefits. 

However, your provider will tailor any acupuncture treatment to your personal needs. Our team can help you develop a treatment schedule that offers optimum benefits and works with any other therapies you're receiving.

6. Does Acupuncture Hurt? 

an acupuncturist performs the procedure on a human foot

Acupuncture uses extremely thin needles that shouldn't hurt when inserted correctly. Most people report minimal or no pain as the needle is placed. Sometimes, people feel a mild and temporary muscle ache, but overall, acupuncture shouldn't be painful. If anything is uncomfortable during a session, you should let your provider know. Acupuncture needles are sterilized and regulated as medical devices by the FDA.

7. How Does Acupuncture Feel?

a happy person lays on a table while receiving acupuncture treatment

Some patients feel a tingle or prickle as their provider places needles. How acupuncture makes people feel in general varies from person to person. Some people say it relaxes them while others feel invigorated. Successful treatment should ease your pain and anxiety. 

8. How Long Do the Benefits of Acupuncture Last? 

a happy person smiles outdoors

How long the benefits of acupuncture last depend on several factors: 

  • Patient's age
  • Patient's overall health 
  • Condition being treated 
  • How long the patient has been getting acupuncture treatments
  • Whether the patient is receiving other treatment for the condition 
  • Any other coexisting conditions 

Initially, the benefits of acupuncture can last a few days to a couple of weeks after each session. Over time acupuncture can provide longer-lasting, or even permanent, relief from pain, inflammation and other problems. 

9. What Should You Expect After an Acupuncture Treatment?

acupuncture needles sit with stone and candles on a textured background

Many patients feel relaxed after acupuncture treatment. Some report feeling deeply relaxed and sleeping very well the evening after a treatment session. 

You shouldn't experience increased pain or disorientation after an acupuncture session. You can resume your normal activities right away, including driving yourself home from the appointment. Your treatment provider may make particular recommendations for your benefit, such as resting your body or drinking plenty of water. 

Acupuncture patients may experience an improvement in symptoms that lasts for several days or longer. Acupuncture may instantly relieve certain types of pain. However, not everyone will experience immediate relief. Some people may need multiple regular treatments to notice significant improvement. 

In particular, patients with serious injuries or chronic conditions may need multiple treatments to achieve relief. In fact, some patients with chronic pain have noted a slight increase in pain immediately after their first acupuncture session. However, many of these people still find that acupuncture increases their comfort level over time. 

Talk to Experts About How Acupuncture Can Help You

an acupuncture therapist applies an acupuncture needle to their client's head

Experienced trained providers at Northeast Spine and Sports Medicine use acupuncture to treat a variety of conditions. Acupuncture may be a helpful therapy alone or in conjunction with another service like physical therapy or chiropractic care. Contact Northeast Spine and Sports Medicine today to discuss your treatment options.