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Acupuncture: What's the Point? Time to Bust Some Myths and Ease Your Jitters

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Author name: Renee Sarra, Florida licensed acupuncture physician


You don’t have to be scared of acupuncture.

Needles poking through your skin may not sound like a good time, but millions have tried it and found relaxation and relief. This old Chinese medicine approach – which has become more mainstream in recent years – helps patients relieve debilitating and life-altering symptoms such as pain, stress, depression, anxiety, and nausea.

And did you know: The American Cancer Society supports the use of acupuncture for cancer patients. Indeed, it can give you some relief without the side effects of medication.

So as more patients look for complementary treatments, let’s point you in the right direction:

What is acupuncture?

The body has natural energy that often gets blocked or impaired. Acupuncture – inserting needles at certain points in the body to relieve symptoms – ignites that energy and releases endorphins. Licensed experts use extremely fine, sterilized, and disposable needles to ensure safety and to give you the most possible benefits.

What happens at my appointment?

Acupuncturists do their best to make you feel comfortable. Remember, this will be just like any other health appointment:

  • Patients fill out paperwork about their health history, the reason for your visit, and other relevant questions.
  • An expert will talk to you, observe your condition, take your pulse and other vitals to come up with the correct treatment plan.
  • We will put a specific plan of action into place so that we can treat your symptoms AND the root cause of your trouble.
  • When you are feeling relaxed and comfortable, we gently insert needles into precise points in your body. Patients usually lie still for about 20 minutes to allow the body to correct itself.
  • We take the needles out, slowly, and the treatment is over. The patient will generally feel more relaxed and at ease.

Does it hurt?

Acupuncture does not hurt. The needle creates a micro tear, sending a signal to the brain, where chemical messengers release and naturally improve your health. Some patients may feel a slight tingle, and many are surprised by how relaxed they feel.

Are the needles reused?

No. Acupuncture needles are either individually wrapped or sealed in a sterile pack. The FDA regulates these needles, which are discarded after use.

How does it all work?

Ah, the magic question! And there are plenty of theories. First, though, let’s recognize that the body knows how to heal itself if provoked in the right way. There is an innate intelligence in all of us that aims toward righting the body.

Let’s use pain as an example. Something causes your pain. Acupuncturists look to balance that system to stop the pain. The placement of the needle and the metal in the needle itself can be thought of as the medicine. The practitioner wisely chooses the correct needle placement, just like the medical doctor chooses the correct medication. The needle sends a signal through a neural pathway to stimulate oxygen, nutrients, blood, and chemical messengers to improve your cellular, tissue, organ, and bone health.

More about needles: How many do you use?

The number of needles varies based on your condition, but typically we use somewhere between eight and 16 each visit. And remember: Acupuncture needles are NOT the same as needles used to poke you and draw blood. These are much finer and thinner.

Do I stay dressed during a session?

Of course. We advise you to wear loose-fitting clothing, however, so we can reach most areas.

Are acupuncturists trained?

In Florida, all graduates must complete four state board exams, 870 hours of hands-on clinic, and, typically, four years of schooling. Please remember that not anyone can just start inserting needles into your body. We are trained experts, committed to complete, compassionate, and quality healing.

Are there different types or styles?

Not all acupuncturists study the same style. Typically, most schools teach Traditional Chinese Medicine, but there are many different forms: Five-element theory, esoteric, Japanese, Korean, Tan style, Master Tang Theory, and others. What style will work best for you? We can help you decide.

Just what exactly will acupuncture help treat?

We’re glad you asked. Acupuncture is great for:

  • Pain
  • Sciatica
  • Pre/Post Surgery
  • Migraines
  • Inflammation
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • PMS
  • Hot Flashes
  • Gastrointestinal Issues
  • Acid Reflux
  • Sinusitis
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety/Depression
  • Fatigue

How do I make an appointment?

Acupuncture at Lee Health does not need a referral. You can call either of these two locations to set up for first appointment:

Lee Health Coconut Point
23450 Via Coconut Point
Estero, FL 34135
Phone 239-468-0050

Outpatient Center at The Sanctuary
8960 Colonial Center Drive Suite #210
Fort Myers, FL 33905
Phone 239-343-9430

Renee Sarra, AP, DOM is a licensed acupuncture physician and a doctor of oriental medicine.

If you would to contribute to Healthy News, please contact us at [email protected]

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