Acupuncture’s Therapeutic Techniques
Don’t fear the needle
Most people are afraid of something. Some, however, have phobias, or irrational fears. A common phobia is trypanophobia, the fear of the needle. As children, we succumb to this fear because most people are not accustomed to getting needles. “Children are especially afraid of needles because they’re unused to the sensation of their skin being pricked by something sharp,” states Healthline.com‘s article on ‘Trypanophobia‘. This results in a tremendous fear of the unknown, and because injections aren’t a frequent occurrence in most of our lives, the time between becomes a time for fear to fester, and the time prior to receiving something as simple as an injection, for example, for immunization (something common), ends up being a time when worry of the impending injection increases.
Needles, after all, do seem a little intimidating. They are inorganic and they look comparable to the pointed tip of a glass file or a pair of nail scissors, something you might carry in your purse. The difference is that we’re used to these everyday items, but we’re not so used to needles.
Needles are tools of the trade in acupuncture. Earlier versions were slivers of animal bones and slender bamboo spears. While most of us overcome our fear of needles by the time we’re adults, some have more difficulty. According to PharmaJet.com, trypanophobia “affect[s] approximately 50 million Americans, making it a top-ten American fear.”
Before you unnecessarily trigger alarms in your brain, if you’re considering acupuncture as a treatment for one of many ailments, such as – though not exclusive to – migraines, back pain, depression, or nausea, there are many reasons to rest-assured, and which will alleviate your needle phobia. Primarily: the hair-thin needles used in acupuncture are so fine that 20 of them can fit into the head of one of the needles used in a medical facility.
If you’re considering acupuncture as a treatment for one of many ailments, such as – though not exclusive to – migraines, back pain, depression, or nausea, there are many reasons to rest-assured, and which will alleviate your needle phobia
Although relatively new to western society (not even five decades old), acupuncture was, in 2013, regulated by the provincial government through The College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario (CTCMPAO). This involves 2,000 hours practical experience per annum. Coincidentally, acupuncture is over 2,000 years old.
The hair-thin needles used in acupuncture are so fine that 20 of them can fit into the head of one of the needles used in a medical facility
The needling technique used harmlessly combines hard and soft stimulation, to balance the yin and yang, and to encourage the flow of qi (energy). These techniques are applied to one or several meridians, or points (defined by the practice) throughout the body, (some argue that there are as many as 2,000 points, while the World Health Organization (WHO) and consensus state 361. Once diagnosed, specific meridians are stimulated by needles which produce an intense range of sensations – from tingling and numbness to movement, water flowing, and complete relief.
“Anyone can stick a needle into someone, or something,” says Jennifer Redding, owner and acupuncturist, AcuFx Health and Wellness Clinic. First and foremost, knowing where to insert the needle, is based on a thorough diagnosis of the patient’s body.
“We look for the most powerful point(s) on a case-by-case basis, insert the needle with complete, pain-free precision, and look for De Qi, which is the excitation of vital energy inside meridians through acupuncture needle stimulation,” says Redding. “We can at times, use extra stimulation by twisting, lifting, and going a bit further in, depending on the case and the person.” Each variant in the needling technique is designed to stimulate a different sensation, effectually leading to pain relief.
We look for the most powerful point(s) on a case-by-case basis, insert the needle with complete, pain-free precision, and look for De Qi, which is the excitation of vital energy inside meridians through acupuncture needle stimulation
The process is deeply intense and based on a give and take of energy, which the practitioner is as much a part of as the patient, says Redding. “Our instruments are tools to enhance your body’s immunity and to allow for proper functionality to occur.”
Since its intro to the west, millions of North Americans have been using acupuncture as a means of pain relief or pain prevention. Upon further review of the treatment, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in 1997, removed acupuncture needles from the category of ‘experimental medical devices’ and promoted them to the same level of medical instruments such as surgical scalpels and hypodermic syringes, “under good manufacturing practices and single-use standards of sterility.”
So next time you feel needled about the thought of needles, think about acupuncture’s gentle techniques, and be well.