- What happens in treatment?
- Are the acupuncture needles sterile?
- How often will I need to attend?
- Is acupuncture safe?
- Can acupuncture be used during pregnancy?
- Can I give blood after having acupuncture?
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What happens in treatment?
The first consultation involves taking a medical history and a detailed discussion of symptoms. Extremely fine, sterile needles are usually then applied to specific points. Other techniques include cupping and moxabustion (a gentle warming treatment). Sometimes acupressure is more appropriate. Patients often report a sense of clarity and relaxation after treatment. We place great emphasis on the relationship of the patient and practitioner. Whilst we treat and correct the imbalances we aim also to give the patient insight into their condition and the information they need to maintain their own health.
Needles used are supplied in sterile blister packs and are for single use only. Needles are never re-inserted after withdrawal but are disposed of immediately into a sharps bin which is destroyed by incineration.
It is usual to have one treatment a week at first, occasionally twice if necessary. As the condition improves treatment becomes less frequent. Some change is usually felt within five or six treatments, although occasionally just one or two treatments are sufficient. Many people choose to have regular acupuncture to maintain good health.
Acupuncture has an exceptionally good safety record. It is certainly safer than many of the drug treatments we use. However, any procedure that involves inserting needles into the body has some potential problems. In addition, there are a few “side effects” produced by acupuncture treatment that are relatively common and can be troublesome in certain people.
Here is a list of some of the side effects you may, or may not, experience:
- Momentary discomfort where the needles are inserted
- Drowsiness and sleepiness
- Minor bleeding and bruising
- Temporary worsening of your symptoms
- Onset of a migraine headache, if you are a sufferer
- Feeling faint, during or after treatment
Serious adverse reactions are extremely rare (less than 1 in 10,000), and include:
- Damage to an internal organ from insertion of a needle
- Infection in the area where the needle was inserted, or spreading through the blood system.
Acupuncture treatment is helpful in pregnancy and there are no established risks specific to pregnancy, although acupuncture is used with due caution in pregnant women. It is extremely effective for treatment of morning sickness.
Current policy from the National Blood Service states that patients of British Acupuncture Council registered practitioners are not able to give blood within 4 months of receiving acupuncture treatment. This is not because of any concern about professionalism, standards or infection risks, it is simply because the British Acupuncture Council is currently not a statutorily regulated body. We hope that this situation will change in time and will keep patients advised.