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My first acupuncture session: hell.

Discussion in 'Acupuncture Massage' started by darren m, Feb 20, 2011.

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  1. darren m

    darren m New Member

    Oct 18, 2010
    So I went for my first acupuncture sesion today.

    I get these pressure point massages regularly from an older Chinese lady who owns a herbal store in London. She's a great massage therapist and had been convincing me for a while to get acunpuncture instead of massage to treat my upper back stiff muscles (all due to stress). I noticed she does have all sorts of diplomas form the British association of acupuncture. So she had me lying facing down while she inserted needles on my back. The first needle was fine, the second O.k, but by the tenth needles the pain became..just.. unbearable. I started to freak out a little bit. I told her to "please remove the needles as I can't hold the pain anymore.". So she pulled them off angrily and gave me a massage instead. I think I won't have acupuncture again. Maybe I shouldn't have gone to a Chinese herbal store and should have tried a well trained western practitioner. And I'm no "delicate flower" when it comes o pain, in fact my dentist always tells me he admires me because I'm really good at holding pain. A case of first time nerves? I don't know what happened but I felt my back muscles were being twisted with tweezers. When I was about to leave she said: " You are too sensitive". Hmm..maybe (?). Maybe acupuncture is not for me.

    Any feedback is welcome. Thank you very much.
  2. jimy

    jimy Member

    Dec 2, 2009
    Hi Ana

    I'm sorry that your first acupuncture experience left you this way; normally acupuncture is a pleasant experience, with little discomfort from the needling process. There are times when there may be the odd pinch or ache, but these are usually fleeting sensations. Sometimes needling into "trigger points" can cause some discomfort which may even last a day or two, and occasionally some folk may experience a little "post treatment soreness".

    A good therapist would have detailed this, and should have introduced you to acupuncture using mild techniques. Once used to the process, more stimulation may be needed as required, but again, a good therapist can judge what you are experiencing, and would cease any stimulation before you would become uncomfortable.

    When visiting "High Street" therapists, especially those where the language skill are not so great, there is a danger that the therapist may not be used to the way westerners express themselves. When I trained in China there was a strong sense from the Chinese patients that stronger stimulation meant a better treatment, who might well feel discomfort but would think it normal for the treatment, leading doctors to use strong treatment methods which may not always be acceptable to westerners.

    Do try not to let this put you off; there are super-sensitive patients, but the fact you had 10 needles prior to any problems would suggest that you're not one of them. Funnily enough, my wife is one of those that is highly sensitive to needling- I can barely get 2 in place before she's had enough, and she never lets me stimulate them; she even feels energy passing between the needles, and they seem to vibrate by themselves!

    The fact is bits of paper on a wall mean very little in an unregulated profession. Maybe you could ask around in your area to find a western practitioner, but I'd avoid going to physios, osteopaths or chiropractors for acupuncture, as their training can be as short a 2 weekends. You could also try the British Acupuncture Council, as the members have a degree level training, or the equivalent.

    As you're in London you could try the training clinic at UEL in Stratford for low cost treatment. The supervisors there are 1st class.

    How is your shoulder now?
  3. Pompal 09.

    Pompal 09. Active Member

    Feb 9, 2011
    Thanks David for your feedback,

    I think I'm going to put acupuncture on hold for a while. In the meantime my shoulder feels better but I think it has more to do with the massages I get and being very active with yoga.

    Having a Chinese (non-English speaking) lady inserting needles on my back has proven not good for my stress
  4. aBebraZib

    aBebraZib New Member

    Jan 13, 2011
    I agree with David - there is a general sense in the Chinese community that stronger treatments are better, but this really isn't the case. Western practitioners tend to be gentler, and should certainly advise you beforehand if anything is likely to hurt, and also check in with you as they go along.

    Most people enjoy the experience of acupuncture, so I'm sorry to hear of your experience. Maybe stick to the massage for now!
  5. star42

    star42 Member

    Jul 17, 2010
    @David- Maldon

    Hi David.

    I have a book (that is now somewhere packed away in a storage box) written/published around the 1970's about acupuncture. I can't recall the title right off hand, but the book is about the author's visit to China and his experience with acupuncture.

    What I remember most about the book was in the introduction (or Chapter 1 or thereabouts) when he described his first witnessing of an acupuncture treatment. He witnessed needles being inserted into a woman's feet/leg that went in as deep as 2 1/2" in some areas.

    The other year I remember seeing an acupuncture horror-story in a blog where the abdominal x-ray of a woman with 20+ acupuncture needles in her abdomen were shown... the reason for this was that her parents wanted her acupuncturist to change her gender to a boy....

    With those two sensational horror stories stories providing the motivational background to my post, are there regulations in the U.K. or U.S. that restrict how deep a needle can be inserted into a person?
  6. John S.

    John S. Member

    Sep 21, 2009
    Hi again,

    I'm a very nervous person plus this was my first acupuncture session. I used to be a classical dancer so I'm quite skinny with a lean muscular body and hardly any fat (I've never had any eating disorder, I'm a vegetarian with a high metabolism and despite I'm always forcing myself into eating I can't seem to put on weight!). Once the 8th needle was inserted in my back I started to feel the pain, got very tense because of it and started to "jiggle" my shoulder thus intensifying the pain even more. The Chinese lady said that if I had relaxed completely and not moved at all I would have been fine. I guess that if your muscle is pinned in 8 different places and you move it everything goes havoc. Problem is that I found the pain unbearable in the first place. Maybe it was my fault? I don't know. But I'm not willing to try it again that's for sure. :-(
  7. Boris

    Boris Member

    Dec 22, 2009
    Hi ana11.

    I really haven't been called to have acupuncture treatments, but did try it some 15 or so years ago when I was having a lot of unexplainable headaches (which were later corrected by changing my diet from processed food to organic).

    My experience wasn't bad, but I'm one of those people who are unusually sensitive to needles. I was laying face down and the lady was gently placing the needles in my back. Everything I remember about her and her office and the experience overall is really wonderful, but in spite of that my body simply doesn't care for needles.

    I twitched almost every time she placed a needle wherever it needed to go, so she assured me she was going to be as gentle as possible, and asked me to close my eyes, relax, and to remember to breathe. She remarked that what my body was doing was amazing because the muscles began to twitch when the needle was about 2" away from the skin.

    The acupuncturist who treated me was absolutely wonderful, but my body simply didn't react well to the needles so I didn't return. But even so, if I felt that I had a chronic problem that other conventional western forms of medicine were not able to successfully treat, I'd go for regular acupuncture treatments.
  8. fella

    fella Member

    Oct 4, 2009
    I can't say much about US regulation, but here in the UK acupuncture is an unregulated profession, meaning that anybody can set themselves up as a practitioner, even without training. This is partly why the British Acupuncture Council is campaigning for Statutory Regulation to put the profession on the same par as osteopaths and physiotherapists, but the current political climate is not allowing this move; a recent application to the current Health Secretary was declined on the basis that acupuncture in the UK already has a safe track record, due in part to the high standards of teaching required by the BAAB, who validate college courses.

    In terms of needle depth, different traditions use different methods; Japanese acupuncture barely pierces the skin, whereas Chinese TCM acupuncture often needles to much greater depths. Pain from needling isn't really related to depth, as most of the nerve endings are in the superficial layers; what's more important is the desired outcome and the anatomical knowledge of the therapist. A 2.5" needle could be quite appropriate for certain leg points, but dangerous if inserted to that depth say, over the rib cage where it would almost certainly cause a pneumothorax.

    Painful reactions, as I mentioned in a previous post, are rare and often related to patient anxiety, although there is always a small chance of a slight needle pinch, which should it occur is normally over in a flash.

    Without seeing the article it's difficult to say much, but I can't imagine any UK trained acupuncturist doing this. There are some Japanese methods that leave needles buried in the skin, but this method is barred to BAcC members due to the danger of needles moving later on.

    Acupuncture in the UK is regarded as a safe form of treatment, but you do need to check the credentials of the practitioner.
  9. Dogzzz

    Dogzzz Member

    Jan 19, 2010
    The article was about a Chinese girl, and it was performed in China (not the U.K. or U.S.). The article and x-ray image is here. I'll also PM you the URL because I'm not certain if it's okay to include it in this post.

    Oh, and this article seems to have a bit more sensationalism in it. The picture is the same, but this story suggests the grandparents wanted the girl to be dead. The original article I read (sorry but I just don't know where) said the parents used acupuncture on the girl as an infant to try to change her gender to a boy.

    And just for the record, even though I've shared a couple horror stories I understand those would be exceptionally rare, and acupuncture is a form of therapy that I trust.
  10. simply_Jam

    simply_Jam New Member

    Aug 4, 2010
    The Daily Mail is notorious here in the UK for sensationalistic journalism; nonetheless, this is tantamount to assault or attempted murder, and does not represent acupuncture as a profession here or in China. It's essentially child abuse, using acupuncture needles. No self respecting practitioner would intentionally harm a patient in this way. I reiterate, this is not acupuncture, but someone using acupuncture needles to willfully harm another human.
  11. FelixDobrov

    FelixDobrov New Member

    Jan 7, 2011
    It's like calling a "doctor" to someone who attacks another person with forceps.
  12. mattierose33011

    mattierose33011 New Member

    Nov 8, 2010
    Hi, two year's ago i had some sessions within the NHS but paid £30 a time.
    First time i went she took a list of things to ask me, which was good.
    I kept very still and the needles were only inserted a little, i liked it and it made me sleep.
    Anyway after 6th session the needles went deeper,they hurt on the top of the bridge of my nose.I think if you have short sessions say six at a time it works but when you feel pain you should stop. I went for IBS and pain in joints, it did work but stopped when it hurt.
  13. Nuci

    Nuci Member

    Jun 26, 2010
    Most (but not all) NHS practitioners of acupuncture have had as little as 4 days training, which always makes me wonder how they feel experienced enough to treat folk.I even have one friend who is a practice nurse that has had NO formal training, and just puts the needles where the doctor has showed her.

    Needless to say, I'd recommend seeking out a fully trained therapist, rather than one who just dabbles a bit!
  14. w/e child

    w/e child Member

    Jun 15, 2010
    David, does the NHS certify like that? Do they just choose a short course then say that this is enough? Don't they include practitioners who are properly trained? I was looking at taking the course for manual lymphatic drainage as an add on to my massage therapy certifications, and it turned out that it's covered by NHS for cancer patients.

    So I'm just a bit confused now (it doesn't take much ). I'm moving to London in the new year. So if I want to go for acupuncture, I can't choose anyone I would like, the NHS decides for me which ones are covered?
  15. A Real Monster

    A Real Monster New Member

    Nov 16, 2010
    In general, if you have acupuncture on the NHS, it's usually after being referred to a pain clinic or physio department after seeing your GP. Some GP's themselves also deliver acupuncture, usually for pain-related problems. As these folk have existing medical training, they are able to learn a truncated form of acupuncture called Western Medical Acupuncture, which is learned over 4 days, with further training available as an option. Most physios, osteopaths, chiropractors, nurses, midwives and GPs do this 4 day training, usually as part of some CPD interest. WMA can be effective for pain when used correctly and in the right circumstances, but it is a very limited form of acupuncture.

    If you went to an NHS practice, you'd probably have no choice as to who you would see, and likely be limited to 4 treatments.

    In this country you can also visit a private practitioner, for which you would pay somewhere between £30-£50 per session. Private practice is unregulated in the UK, meaning that any Joe or Jane Bloggs can call themselves an acupuncturist, with no training, so always check the credentials, and don't be taken in by shiny bits of paper on the wall. Members of the British Acupuncture Council (a voluntary regulatory body) have a degree level training, and so you are likely to be well taken care of, as these folk are trained to manage much more than simple pain problems. There's a list of members on their website. There are non-members that make good practitioners, but you do need to check their training and experience.

    It makes me a bit cross when physios etc advertise that they do acupuncture after just 4 days of training Can you imagine the uproar they'd make if I had 4 days training and set myself up as a physio or nurse!
  16. Ryarli

    Ryarli New Member

    Dec 15, 2010

    Thanks for the explanation. Now I know what to look for if I go for acupuncture, and other natural therapies. What's ironic is that natural therapies, especially the Chinese modes, are meant to heal the patient.

    And don't worry, I won't be sold by a shiny piece of paper on the wall since I paid big bucks for my ITEC diplomas so I'm a good critic.
  17. JanetTiettotsscold

    JanetTiettotsscold Member

    Mar 22, 2010
    Firstly! what the hell has that X-ray got to do with acupuncture! you can clearly see they are not acupuncture needles.Second, Regulation of acupuncture will cost each acupuncturist approx £2000-3000 per year just to practise and be part of a 'group' that will monopalise the training systems in the colledges and universaties. and for most of us this is just paying the 'fat cats'.This means you WILL HAVE to attend 'their' course and their's only! for say £20,000, then you WILL HAVE to pay 'them' £2000-£3000 per year so you can say you are registered with them! Nearly all people that embark on the practise of acupuncture are fully aware of the dangers and the extensive training involved. It is down to the teachers to turn out good practitioners.Statutory regulation was denied because the majority of us do not need it. Only the Bristish Acupuncture Council is forcing this regulation. There is another group The Acupuncture-Acutherpay Council who is the largest registered body for Oriental Medicine practitioners in the UK, the only reason most are unaware is that they don't plough thousands of pounds into advertising like other groups and it is run by one of the most authorative figures in Chinese medicine who sits on the board to decide these decisions.The main danger in the UK is GP's, Chiropractors and Physiotherapists who attend short 4 day courses (as David mentioned) 99% or negative stories can be sourced to these professions, why don't you hear about it? becuase they are protected.The CNHC is now regarded as the leading body who are regulating the Complimentary Medicine Sector. They are funded by the Government and recommended by the Department of Health. If your practitioner meets their standards then this will be a good sign of training and practise.CHNC also means that NHS staff can refer to these approved practitioners. Traditional Acupuncture is not yet listed, but it will be soon, Microsystems Acupuncture on the other hand....is.RECOMMENDATION! is the best way to find any practitioner. Don't be afraid to ask for qualifications, Insurance, etc, any decent practitioner will be happy to show off their acheivements.PHEW!
  18. Zeonin

    Zeonin New Member

    Jul 26, 2013
    Thanks for the post

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