For those of you who know me, first off you know that I hate needles. Secondly you know that I have horrible migraines. A colleague of mine who happens to be an M.D. asked me one day if I had ever tried acupuncture for relief and I told him that I had never really thought about it.
If you have ever suffered from migraines you well know that a person would do just about anything to ward them off. I decided to give the whole acupuncture treatment a try and have had good results so far. I also decided to share what I know about it.
Acupuncture is the practice of inserting thin needles into specific body points to improve health and well-being. It originated in China more than 2,000 years ago. American practices of acupuncture use medical traditions from China, Japan, Korea and other countries. In the United States, the best-known type involves putting hair-thin, metallic needles in your skin.
Research has shown that acupuncture reduces nausea and vomiting after surgery and chemotherapy. It can also relieve pain. Researchers don't fully understand how acupuncture works. It might aid the activity of your body's pain-killing chemicals. It also might affect how you release chemicals that regulate blood pressure and flow.
Here are some common questions that I can try to answer:
What can I expect on my first visit?
Well, you can expect to spend about two hours during your first visit. The practitioner will spend a good hour going over your health history in order to develop a plan of treatment. Unlike traditional medicine, acupuncture takes a whole body approach meaning that they look at physical health and also mental health. The acupuncturist will examine you and will check your pulses in your wrist and also look at your tongue. Apparently in traditional acupuncture the tongue is used to diagnose a whole host of problems and the pulses are not taken in the traditional way that western medicine does it. It is checked in several points on your wrist.
After about an hour of health history and examination you will lay on a massage table and needles will inserted in specific points along meridian lines that lie within your body. The needles stay in for about 30 minutes and are removed. Sometimes needles are inserted and removed right away. Every treatment is different. After removal you are left to rest for about 15 minutes. Each successive treatment will last about an hour.
Will it hurt?
The needles that they use are hair thin. Yes, you will feel something...its a needle piercing your skin. Is it horrible? No. The most that I felt was like getting a mosquito bite, the least that I felt was nothing at all. A lot depends on the point that they are working on. The worst was in my feet. The least painful was in my back, legs, and top of my head. I barely felt them. I can tell you that you will feel SOMETHING or else its not working like it should. Each point is different. Sometimes I feel a tingle, sometimes I feel a dull ache, other times I feel a sense of calm. I can tell you that I fell asleep on the table the first time I had it done so that should tell you that its not horrible and painful. Oddly, its relaxing after the needles are in.
Are there any risks?
From the research I did and also according to my practitioner, there is a slight risk of infection but if your acupuncturist follows sterile technique the risk is very minimal. There is also a risk of organ puncture and getting a pneumothorax from a punctured lung. This happens if your acupuncturist needles too deeply and occurs from someone who doesn't know what they are doing. I can tell you from working in a hospital, that the risk of organ damage or lung puncture is very very very minimal. I have used way bigger needles and have seen them stuck in lungs and all sorts of organs without any issue. Bottom line, no...you would risk more harm crossing a street in traffic than going to an acupuncturist. Make sure that your practitioner is registered and certified and any good practitioner will used needles that are disposable and come in a sealed sterile package.
How many treatments does it take?
From what I have read, as few as three as many as ten. Everyone is different. Its the same as traditional medicine. Sometimes people respond to treatment quickly sometimes slowly, sometimes not at all.
Is it expensive?
The average rate is around $60.00 per visit and some insurances cover it. UPMC only covers it if you are pregnant (for nausea control) or for chemotherapy patients. Your initial visit will run around $90.00.
My results so far:
I can tell you that I have seen a reduction in the number of migraines that I get per week and can also tell you that I feel very good the first few days after treatment. This is my third visit so I am still getting treatment. I am very happy with Dr. Braasch. He will make you feel very at ease and will answer any possible questions that you might have. He does not rush and will spend as much time as you need. He also will not leave you alone while needles are inserted which is nice. It puts you at ease.
Here is where I go:
Dr. Peter Braasch
5819 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15217