Most of us associate acupuncture with the mental imagery of lying on a massage table, with hundreds of needles poking out of every possible crevice of your body. And with right measure, too!
A form of alternative medicine, and a part of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into the body’s acupuncture pressure points. While it was originally used largely for relieving pain, today acupuncture’s many benefits involve stress-relief, better sleep, and better digestion, among others.
Fear of Needles
For many people, however, there is one major thing that holds them back from enjoying the true benefits of acupuncture – the fear of needles.
The fear of needles, it seems, ranges from a serious phobia of it, to simply being concerned about voluntarily opting to be stuck with them. However, there are a few ways to overcome that fear.
First of all, the acupuncture needles are nothing like the needles we are familiar with. They are, in fact, hair thin needles that bend when you touch them.
“[Acupuncturist Kathryn Peak says,] needle apprehension is very common and natural, considering that we have been conditioned to associate needles with pain—think dentists, blood draws, and IVs. But acupuncture needles are hair-thin and nothing like the needles we are accustomed to in a medical setting.” – HuffingtonPost.com
Even kids, who are known to be terrified of shots, have been known to get acupuncture. In fact, acupuncturists in the U.S., use the reference as a means of calming down patients who are afraid of needles. Their logic of “a kid can get it done, it is that painless,” they claim, almost always works, and their patients are ultimately willing to give it a shot.
Another approach that acupuncturists take is to not refer to them as needles.
“[Acupuncturist Jodi Knauer says,] “I have several patients who refer to acupuncture needles as magical healing sticks. This tiny shift in perception, away from the western-medical needle, can help to release fears and phobias around acupuncture.” – HuffingtonPost.com
What is important for most patients to understand though, is that it is they who are in control. Which means you need not lie as stiff as a board for the entire session, and you can tell your acupuncturist at any time, if you are feeling uncomfortable. And she will pull out the needle for you. What almost always works with patients who fear needles, is to have them put on you a few at a time, so you can get used to the feeling.
And despite that, if you still are morbidly afraid at the thought, the good news is that there are in fact, trained acupuncturists, who do not use needles at all! That’s right. The needle approach is not the only method of doing acupuncture.
Other techniques exist – including acupressure (where physical pressure is applied to the acupuncture points), cupping (where cups made of glass, bamboo or earthenware are placed on the skin to create suction, thereby mobilizing blood flow), gua sha (where the skin of an infected area is slightly scraped in order to stimulate blood flow and healing), moxibustion (a procedure involving the use of moxa, made from dried mugwort), quigong (an ancient Chinese health care system that integrates breathing techniques, physical postures and focus), and more! And the best part? None of these involve needles!
Maybe it’s time to try this alternative therapy now?