How to Get the Most Out of Your Acupuncture

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In order to give you the dirt on how to make the most out of your sessions with me, or whomever your acupuncturist may be, I have to take on the role of “myth buster” here for a moment. Although acupuncture continues to gain popularity and credibility in our little corner of the world, there are still some pretty common “unknowns” or “assumptions” about the medicine that take away from you being able to fully reap the benefits of this incredible healing modality.

Myth #1. “Acupuncture is only for pain”  

Although acupuncture is fantastic for pain, that is only a tiny portion of the power it has and the scope of issues it can treat. Because acupuncture works to restore balance in the body, it can literally work for anything. In fact, some of my favorite things to work with lie on the mental-emotional spectrum; it works wonders for anxiety, depression, stress, obsessions/compulsions, and ADHD. It can also treat everything from digestive disorders to insomnia. It is oftentimes thought of for pain because pain is generally an easier area to assess progress on your own, and commonly pain conditions shift faster. This does not mean acupuncture cannot work on the other areas of your body.

Pro Tip: Tell your acupuncturist everything! This does not mean that we won’t focus on your area of concern, but opening up about other areas in your life can only help the process. Everything is important, from bowel movements and appetite to sleep, emotion, and energy. Thorough communication will not only help to give you a more well-rounded treatment, but it will also help shift your main complaint more quickly (even if it is a pain complaint). So, yes: Knowing that you get constipated when you eat spicy food may actually help me work on your shoulder pain! The more info the better!

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Myth # 2. “If I don’t get better right away, it’s not working”

After someone’s first or second appointment, I commonly hear something like this: “I felt really, really good for 3 days... and then everything came back.” Picture the first part of this sentence said with elation, and the second part said with hunched shoulders, a dropped chin, and a voice that literally drops several octaves. I totally understand this. Often times, after your first acupuncture treatment you feel better than you have in years; you get used to that feeling, and when the pain comes back, it feels like failure. Trust me when I say: This. Is. Not. A. Bad. Thing. In fact, it is a completely awesome, amazing, out-of-this-world thing!

Any change is good change, sort of like the age-old expression, “There’s no such thing as bad press." Your body has been living with a particular dysfunction for years, and overtime it adapts and creates a “new norm” so that you can get through your day and function adequately. Just as it took years to mold and shape and adapt to the dysfunction, it will also take a while to reset. Acupuncture is powerful and it moves stagnant energy at a really effective, direct, and quick pace, but it will normally take more than one treatment. When your body shows signs of change (even if on occasion things get worse) this means your body is responding, that it is ready to heal, and that it is open and accepting of the energetic shift and it wants to get better.

Pro tip: Do not despair if symptoms do not resolve in one treatment. Keep careful notes of what does happen between visits. Report accurate information to your acupuncturist, and trust that you will be told honestly how you are progressing. Breathe and trust the process.

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Myth #3. “If it aint broke, don’t fix it.”

We have been conditioned to look at health in an “if you’re not sick, you’re healthy” perspective. The problem with this is that we wait too long and let imbalances worsen until we are facing years and years of chronic pain. Twinges, tweaks, and “small” symptoms that begin to arise in your body are telling you something; your body is always communicating with you. Acupuncture is a great preventative medicine, so you do not need some big serious main complaint to get treated. In fact, I recommend seeking treatment before anything arises, and even after your symptoms clear! I strongly encourage patients to continue treatments as a preventative and maintenance approach to their health. It can be looked at as simply as changing the oil in your car or replacing batteries in your smoke alarm. Is it not crazy to think that some of us may take better care of our cars than our bodies!

Pro Tip: Don’t wait until things get really severe and chronic before getting treated. People come to me all the time and say they just want a balancing or a maintenance treatment, and that is completely fine! In fact, that is fantastic! First things first though, simply start paying attention to your own body and being open to what it is communicating with you. If you’re already getting treated with acupuncture, make sure to include even the tiny details that you may not think matter, like, for instance, that you’re craving sweets or that you're thirsty all the time!

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I could go on for days on this topic, but I really want things to make sense and to stick with you, and research says that we need to introduce things slowly in order for that to happen, so, for today, you only get three! I can say though, with complete confidence, that this conversation is not over!

Help me spread the good word about the medicine I love and share this post with a friend!

Until next time,

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