Ewwww!!! Needles.... Yikes!

By Tona Marquez on Jul 03, 2016 at 03:17 AM in Santa Barbara Acupuncture
Pins on black surface
Super gentle healing pins

Pin Master vs. Needle Jabber

Acupuncture uses needles. Needles work. Needles are cheap. Needles are pointy sharp things that many people dread! If you are one of those people, maybe your dislike of needles keeps you from trying acupuncture. And that is too bad because acupuncture is good at alleviating pain, muscle tension, stress, anxiety, poor sleep, low energy, stomach problems and hormone issues.

Trust me, I'm not here to convince anyone they NEED acupuncture. I don't even like it when my patients try to convince their friends and family members that they NEED acupuncture. Why?

Because acupuncture therapy is a process which means that you are NOT going to just come in for just one treatment. You will need to come in a few times, at the very least, and most likely quite of few times to get the results you expect. So even if people NEED acupuncture its more important that people get to LIKE acupuncture.

That's what makes a good acupuncturist (AKA Pin Master) verses a bad acupuncturist (AKA Needle Jabber).

An acupuncturist at the Cleveland Clinic wrote about 10 myths that keep patients from trying acupuncture. And provides some good answers and solutions for people that don't like needles. Let me tell you how I approach this in our clinic.

You can try acupuncture without springing a leak, I promise!

Lower 3 Emperors
3 easy pokes for better sleep

When patients are super worried about acupuncture needles I tell them "Hey, this isn't for everybody." Part of an acupuncture treatment is resting with the needles in for at least 30 minutes and then repeat this several times a week for a few weeks. This time should be relaxing, soothing, and easy going.

If a patient is willing to still give it a try, I let them know that I am going to go super slow and they can stop me at anytime. We will just go one "pin" at a time. Part of the way I do acupuncture requires some amount of pressing with my thumb or fingers along the patient's legs and arms.

When pressing with my thumb or finger, I'm trying to find "a spot" that feels "out of place", maybe a little sore, like pressing on a bruise. Or maybe it feels like a sore muscle or cramp, even sometimes like deep pressure on a bone or maybe a little zing, like hitting a nerve. Whatever the sensation it's usually a bit of a surprise that it's there. A typical response is, "Wow, that's pretty sore there. I didn't know that was there."

I tell patients just to focus on their breathing, close their eyes and I'll guide them step by step. Once I find "a spot" I'll have the patient do a couple of deep breaths in and out and then poke. The pin pokes are usually fairly mild and frequently only a tapping sensation is felt. Most patients are surprised that the sensation really wasn't much of a poke at all.

Lying with needles
Pin Napping

Whoa! You leave those in?!?

Then next thing to overcome is the idea of resting with pins in the arms and legs. I tell patients they often don't feel the pins once they are in place. They may feel other odd or unusual sensations in their arms, legs and body but those sensations are mild.

I suggest to patients that these sensations are their bodies responding to the pins, making all the adjustments needed to improve their symptoms. If they are mild, just go with it. Think of the pins, pokes and sensations as the things your body needs to get better. Just close your eyes and breath.

What do you mean YOU don't like needles?

That's right. I don't like needles. I hate injections. Don't like getting blood tests. And am fearful of pokes. And I'm an acupuncturist!

It took me years to get used to acupuncture. Years!

But as I learned from teachers, who got almost instantaneous results, I became more enthusiastic about feeling the results for myself and accepted more and more treatments from these teachers and their students. As I learned more and more and got better and better results with my patients my teachers encouraged me to start treating myself.

Now, 10 years since placing pins on my first patient I frequently treat myselft with acupuncture. I still don't like needles. But I like that a few pokes heal my aches and pains, help my digestion, improve my quality of sleep, soothe my stress, and let me enjoy career and my life with my friends and family.