Stroud Acupuncture Frequently asked questions

Do the needles hurt ?

It actually depends on how you personally experience pain. If you read the patient feedback, you will see that most patients said that they hardly noticed the needles at all. The acupuncture needles are not really needles at all, but pieces of very very fine stainless steel wire and are very much thinner than a hypodermic needle. They are so thin that 70 or more acupuncture needles can go into the middle hole of a hypodermic needle. When they are inserted they don’t usually hurt. While most people feel nothing at all; others experience a brief moment of discomfort as the needle penetrates the skin. The needles are left in place for about twenty minutes. Most people find the experience extremely relaxing and uplifting and even fall asleep for the duration of the treatment. However, for those patients who just don't want to try needles, we can treat almost as effectively using small magnets and warmth.

Do I have to Undress ?

No! You will only need to expose certain parts of your body, typically your arms and lower legs and your abdomen. If you need to remove any items of clothing for treatment your underwear will always stay on and you will be covered by towels so that only the part of the body to be worked on will be visible. It is best to wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes when coming for treatment, trousers that easily go above the knee without cutting off your blood supply (or shorts) and if possible, a sleeveless vest. You can change into suitable clothes in the treatment room if you wish.

Are the acupuncture needles reused ?

No - NEVER! - the single-use sterile needles come in sealed packs and are opened in front of you and are safely disposed of after each treatment.

Is acupuncture safe ?

Acupuncture in general is a very safe form of therapy and has very few side effects or complications compared with conventional medical drug treatments. Occasionally a needle may cause a small bruise that usually disappears in a few days, and you may feel tired after the treatment. Sometimes your symptoms may worsen for a day or two before getting better, but this is usually a sign of the healing process. Acupuncture is one of the safest medical treatments on offer and has a very good track record. Two independently conducted surveys published in the British Medical Journal concluded that the risk of a serious adverse reaction to acupuncture is less than 1 in 10,000 - this is far less than many conventional medical treatments. I observe strict codes of safe practice and professional conduct and ensure very high standards of hygiene and protection.

Do I Have to Believe in it for it to Work?

Chinese medicine is a medical system, not a belief system. Acupuncture works whether you believe in it or not. Of course, having a positive attitude that you will indeed feel better is important to all healing in general. Good results are seen in the majority of cases independent of belief. Acupuncture is widely used on animals, including horses, dogs and cats. Animals respond incredibly well to acupuncture without understanding or believing any of it! A dog that cannot get up the stairs with arthritis, but bounds up them after acupuncture from a vet - didn't need to believe in it!

Do I need to be ill to have acupuncture?

Not at all! Traditionally, many people have used acupuncture as a form of preventative medicine. Feeling well is so much more than just not being ill. Good health is a reflection of your attitude to life and your sense of well-being. Keeping healthy in the modern world can be a challenge; this ancient system holds many of the answers.

Do I need to see a doctor before I have acupuncture treatment?

If you have a health problem we always recommend that you first seek help and advice from your GP. However, many patients have already had medical treatment and are coming for acupuncture, as conventional medicine has been unable to resolve their problem satisfactorily, or the drugs prescribed have created worse problems. Your doctor’s diagnosis can be helpful, but I am more interested in how your disease process affects you in particular, so I can treat you as a whole person according to my acupuncture diagnosis. The acupuncture may enable you to reduce or stop taking some forms of medication, but your doctor should always be consulted regarding any changes in medication you may be considering.

As a qualified acupuncturist, I am trained to recognise critical symptoms (red-flags) which require further investigation. I will know when to suggest that you see a doctor if I suspect a previously un-diagnosed condition. However, all decisions about your treatment and indeed whether or not to contact your doctor, remain in your hands.

I had acupuncture before and it was painful and didn’t help me !

I practice a very gentle, but effective and powerful style of Japanese acupuncture which uses very fine needles and they are only inserted shallowly and not given strong manipulation or wriggling about like Chinese acupuncture, so the whole treatment is a lot less intense than a normal session of Chinese TCM acupuncture. Also, you may have had acupuncture in your local GP practice from a health professional, who very likely had only a very short training in medical acupuncture, which may not have included Chinese diagnosis at all. I recommend that any acupuncturist you visit should have had at least three years of training in acupuncture.

How many sessions will I need ?

The number of sessions you require will depend on many factors including how healthy you are as a whole and how long you have had your health problem. Generally the longer you have had a problem the more sessions it will take to resolve it. A typical course of treatment would be two to five weekly sessions and then an occasional top-up visit. You should expect to feel some relief from your problem within a few sessions. I suggest that you come for at least two treatments. If you have a serious condition for which there is no cure, you might have a treatment every few weeks or once a month or quarter, to help alleviate the symptoms and improve your overall feeling of well-being.

Do I need to do anything before coming for acupuncture treatment?

Not really, but please eat before the treatment and do not arrive hungry. Your visit may last about 60 minutes, and it is best to wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes when coming for treatment, trousers that easily go above the knee without cutting off your blood supply (or shorts) and if possible a sleeveless vest.

Will I need to do anything after acupuncture treatment?

Acupuncture affects different people in different ways. Some people get tired and very relaxed after acupuncture, especially if they have not had it before, and may need a nap at home. Some people may experience an aggravation of their symptoms the next day, this is usually a good sign that healing is occurring. If it persists however, then please give me a ring or let me know before the next treatment.

What style of acupuncture do you practice?

I trained for a year at The College of Integrated Chinese Medicine which teaches 5-Element style and for three years at The Northern College of Acupuncture that teaches TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). At present, I practice and am training in Japanese acupuncture, Kiiko Matsumoto style, as I prefer her gentler yet powerful and effective Japanese approach.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Kiiko Matsumoto style Japanese acupuncture

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a style of acupuncture developed in the People’s Republic of China after 1949, as an attempt to systematize all the different Chinese acupuncture family styles existing at that time. It offers a pragmatic and structured approach to treating illness. This is the most commonly practiced style of acupuncture in China and around the world. TCM practitioners tend to use thicker needles with more and stronger needle manipulation than Japanese styles. Japanese acupuncture developed from Chinese acupuncture, but uses a gentler approach with thinner needles and needle sensation (deqi) is not elicited and thus rarely felt by the patient. Palpation of the Hara, or abdomen, is the foundation of this method. The abdomen, neck and back are all assessed by palpating specific reflex areas. Pain and tightness in these areas tells the practitioner about the state of health of the patient. Points are then chosen to significantly change these reflexes qualities, thus giving an immediate feedback, to both the practitioner and the patient, as to how well the treatment is working. Because of its efficacy, we like to use this style of acupuncture on the majority of our patients, especially if they present with complex conditions. Click on the button if you want to learn more about Kiiko Matsumoto acupuncture (KMS).

Isn't acupuncture just a lot of ancient superstitious nonsense and vodoo gibberish - it can't be relevant today ?

Well, it is based on a totally different viewpoint of the world than modern scientific thinking, but it has remained popular for almost 3,000 years, simply because it really does work and actually improves peoples' health and well-being, despite criticism from scientists who don't understand why or how it actually works. Every day more and more people across the world discover how effective acupuncture can be, particularly for functional or chronic illnesses, where modern scientific medicine often cannot really give effective treatment and can cause unpleasant drug side-effects that can be worse than the original problem, and can lead to premature death.

Are my treatments confidential?

Absolutely. Your treatment will be completely confidential. Your employer, the police or your GP have no right to this information without a warrant. If you move elsewhere in the country and wish to visit another practitioner, then your file may be transferred, but only with your permission.

What is Moxibustion or moxa?

Moxa is frequently used alongside acupuncture to treat a variety of conditions. It is a therapy which involves burning the herb mugwort (Artemesiae Vulgaris) at acupuncture points, either on the skin, above the skin or on the top of an inserted needle. It stimulates circulation and nourishes blood and Qi and is very useful in chronic conditions or when the patient is cold. At Stroud acupuncture we use electric versions of Moxa, which are safer and less irritating to the lungs.

Find answers to common questions about Japanese acupuncture sessions at Stroud Acupuncture, Japanese styles and more.