Here are some answers to my most commonly asked acupuncture questions.  Don't see your question here? Get in touch at hello@karolinadoesacupuncture.com I'd love to hear from you!
What is acupuncture, exactly? What’s happening once all the needles are in?
Let me share my favourite way to explain how acupuncture works and what’s going on when the needles are in the body. Imagine your body as a circuit board covered with intersecting pathways or channels much like our blood vessels and nerves. Now, imagine your vital life energy, what we acupuncture nerds call Qi, flowing through these channels to every part of your body, bringing nourishment, oxygen and performing all metabolic functions. Since our bodies are made up of mostly water (think back to chemistry class), by inserting thin, flexible metal needles into the channels at specific points, we can tap into the energetic level of the body and "complete" the circuit, influencing the flow of Qi through the circuit board and creating a healing response. Pretty cool, right? However, over time, the channels get plugged up or weakened and tend to fall back into their old patterns which we experience as pain, dysfunction or disease. In other words, acupuncture clears away the sludge or fortifies weakness to allow Qi to flow freely and a course of treatments will help reset you to a new, healthier, more resilient normal. To put this in chemical terms, acupuncture triggers the release of biochemicals such as endorphins and enkephalins from the brain and nervous system. These natural proteins are the body’s own morphine, which inhibit pain and produce feelings of euphoria and deep relaxation. All that, and much more, is what’s happening once the needles are in.
What does acupuncture feel like? Does acupuncture have to hurt to work? 

Though acupuncture needles are incredibly fine they may give a bit of a “bite” when they are inserted and they don’t always feel the same, so there is no consistent answer to this one. Sometimes you don't feel the needles at all. Sometimes you feel a tiny prick with insertion or maybe a little ache that fades away within seconds. You may feel some pressure, a heavy sensation or pulsing at the points. You may feel similar sensations throughout the treatment as the points wake up and communicate with one another. Feeling these sensations is completely ok, we want to create a response from your body and it tells us that the body is receiving the healing messages we’re sending via the treatment.Needle sensitivity also changes from patient to patient and day to day, so the very best thing to do is to try it out for yourself. If a needle is painful and the sensation isn’t fading, please let me know and I can “lower the dose” which means adjusting the needle a little bit or removing it all together if it’s still uncomfortable to clear the sensation. And don’t worry, I will check in a LOT, and welcome your honest feedback. Don’t EVER suffer in silence!When we are stressed out or when our nervous system is on edge or we’ve had inadequate sleep, we often feel the needles more than usual. I want you to relax because that’s when healing happens, and you can’t relax if you’re bracing against pain. My entire focus is your comfort and to put you at ease with the points, but yes, you will feel some of them, if only briefly! And NO Acupuncture doesn’t have to hurt to work. Your treatment is not something to suffer through. Quite the opposite. Telling you that acupuncture doesn’t hurt means nothing, though, until you experience it. So, book an appointment, and judge for yourself. If you’re feeling nervous, let me know, I will put you right at ease — and maybe even right to sleep!

 

How long are the treatments?

During an Initial Acupuncture Visit we will do a deep dive consultation for 20 minutes and needles can stay in for up to 40 minutes. At a Return Visit the consultation will be a briefer check in to see how you’re doing since the last visit giving you the remaining 50 minutes acu-nap. If that feels a tad too long, 30 minutes is a great treatment length as well. Just say the word, and I can shorten it up for you, no problem. 30 minutes with the needles in is a great minimum treatment, it gives the brain time to check in with every channel and acu-points and help them jumpstart your inner healer.

 

 

 

Why don’t you put the needles where I hurt? 

I get asked questions like this a lot: “My back hurts, why are you putting acupuncture needles in my hand?” I practice a style of acupuncture called Balance Acupuncture. I tap into your body’s energy superhighways (called meridians or channels) to cause change somewhere else. Here’s an analogy for how this works. To turn on the light in the middle of your kitchen, you flip a switch on the wall, right? The switch turns on the electrical flow and the light receives energy. In the same way, I use an acupuncture point on your hand to relieve pain in your low back. By treating areas that are opposite and distant, I change how energy moves in the area of pain or illness. The points I needle are like switches I turn on to get your body back into balance. This is different from traditional acupuncture, which treats the location of the pain. But with Balance Acupuncture, I pull energy away from the location of pain by treating far from the symptom. We view the entire body as one interconnected system, rather than isolated areas of pain or blockage.

What parts of the body do you usually put needles in?

I mostly use points on your head and ears, and below your elbows and knees. No need to take your clothes off. Just dress comfortably so that you can easily roll up to your elbows and knees, and let us send you off to acu-nap-bliss-land.I won’t ask you to lay face down first on a table like other clinics you’ve been to because it’s uncomfortable and unnecessary. Anything that’s wrong on the back of you can easily be treated with needles on the front. Remember, I will not be needling directly into your pain because I don’t believe you have to poke a sleeping bear to shift the pain!My teeny tiny needles are a similar width to your hair! Go ahead, take a look at a strand of hair and you’ve got the idea. I can fit about 20 of my needles into the width of a hypodermic needle. Now that’s a big relief! So, if fear of needles has been preventing you from trying acupuncture, make an appointment, and I promise to be gentle.

During my treatment, how do I know the acupuncture is “working”?

Here are some things to watch for that all indicate the needles are doing their job.

  • Feel a chill — You’re fully dressed and have a blanket or sweater on but you feel a chilled in your body. This indicated that your Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) responsible for our fight, flight, freeze, or fawn response is powering down and your Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) in charge of our rest and digest state saying Hi! and getting the healing started.
  • Teary eyes — You're not even sad but your eyes might start to water. Again, this is your SNS shutting down and your PNS turning on! Welcome to acu-bliss!
  • Pain scale drops — Get ready to believe that Acupuncture is magic because your pail level dropped from a 9/10 to 3/10 before I even get all the needles in - Remember that my goal with treating pain is to get your pain scale down by half at each visit - Amazing!
  • Time passes quickly and you’re pleasantly surprised when I come over to check in after 45 minutes that felt like 15. 
  • Sleep or feeling like you’re asleep — Congratulations! You’ve just tapped into the coveted "Acu-Nap" zone in which your nervous system winding down down and sending you into “rest and digest” mode and where all the healing happens.
  • Your limbs twitch or jump, waking you — Great! That’s your nervous system working
  • You’re snoring — Load enough to wake yourself, you know it’s working!
I’m super fidgety, how do you expect me to lay there?

Lucky for you I don’t expect you to lie perfectly still. Once the needles are in, you can adjust your position, bend your legs, or scratch your face. I’m inserting very fine, flexible needles, NOT pinning you to the table! Though we don’t recommend getting up to walk to the bathroom, we encourage you to shift about gently to get more comfortable.If you’re concerned about scratching your face or repositioning your arms while your needles are in, let me know and I’ll guide you. What if I don’t know how to relax?Relaxation is so important! Your nervous system relies on your body’s ability to rest and relax. When you relax, your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) takes over. The PNS is also called “rest and digest” mode, and for good reason: when you’re in this state, your body’s healing response is activated. On the other hand, when you’re in a hyped-up, overthinking, restless state, your sympathetic nervous system takes over. You’ve probably heard this called “flight, flight, freeze or fawn” mode. Being stuck in this mode has long-term side effects that include chronic stress and anxiety. These in turn lead to tight shoulders, pain, hormonal imbalances, compromised immune system, and a whole cascade of health problems. The best news for all those “can’t shut off” people out there is that there’s no better way than Balance Acupuncture to experience deeply pleasurable, restorative relaxation. Trust me to give you the best treatment for your particular style of “can’t relax” that will send you off for the “acu-nap” of your dreams! Need more encouragement? I’m here to help. Book yourself in for an appointment immediately, even if you suck at relaxing!

How should I prepare for my treatment?

That’s easy! Just make sure you’re not hungry, you’re well hydrated and arrive with an open-minded to initiate deep healing. 

What should I wear and bring when I come for my treatment?

I suggest loose and comfortable clothing that can be rolled up to the knees and elbows.

Optional items to bring:

  • An eye pillow
  • A cozy blanket 
  • Earplugs or earbuds
  • Something to listen to
  • Bottled water or tea
Can I go on my phone?
Unless it’s to play music, a meditation, a podcast or audio-book - absolutely not. The whole point of coming in for a treatment is to step away from swiping for instant gratification and compulsively replying to endless emails.  So NO, please don't go on your phone.
What does acupuncture treat and what can it help me with?
TLDR: I don’t just treat parts, pains, symptoms, or diseases, but the WHOLE. No matter the specifics of your problem, I can help strengthen your whole body-mind ecosystem.
The short answer: Everything. The long answer: I treat everything, and if I can’t help your mind and body create a shift I am part of a holistic practitioner network that can! Acupuncture is often known for creating relaxation or treating pain, and that is often what brings people in, but in a typical day I treat and provide support for digestive health, mental health, sleep issues, pre and post surgery, fertility support, headaches, migraines, pregnancy, trying to conceive, IVF, IUI, autoimmune disease, post concussion, immune health, hormonal balancing, post cancer support and recovery, acne, skin care, eczema, psoriasis. And if you’re up for it we can go so much deeper around your need for motivation, focus, concentration, strength to stand up in a difficult situation, relationship clarity, support, just being human, honestly, you name it, I treat it. 
Is there anyone who should NOT get acupuncture?

I haven’t met them yet. After scouring the internet and other sources, I’ve not found any contraindications, other than warnings against things I would NEVER do, like stimulating labour too early in pregnancy.  Age is certainly not a limitation. My youngest patient was just 2 and my oldest was 97 years old. If you’re at all uncertain about getting acupuncture, here’s what’s most important: trusting the practitioner enough to clearly communicate all your big feelings around trying something new. An acupuncturist should never be dismissive of your fears or worries about trying something new. Trust and confidence in an acupuncturist is ultimately what you are seeking. So it’s really up to you to decide. If you’re still wondering if acupuncture is appropriate for your situation, fire over an email to hello@karolinadoesacupuncture.com and I’ll be happy to get back to you with SOLUTIONS within 48 hours.