Does acupuncture hurt?
Oh boy, this is such a common question.
Short answer: NO.
Longer answer: Acupuncture doesn’t have to hurt to work. Your treatment is not something to suffer through. Quite the opposite. We want you to relax because that’s when healing happens, and you can’t relax if you’re bracing against pain.
Most patients say they either don’t feel the needles going in at all or they feel a slight pinch. On the off chance you do experience discomfort, we’ll adjust the needle right away or take it out.
But pain is so subjective. Maybe a friend has told you about their excruciating acupuncture session (which, we guarantee, didn’t happen at the Village). We’re on constant alert for your responses and will stop immediately at the first sign that you’re less than happy. We check in a LOT, and we welcome your honest feedback. Do not EVER suffer in silence!
And while we don’t like to brag, we CAN spot a fainter a mile away! Yes, a fainter. The more tattoos a person has and the bigger they are, the more likely they are to have needle-nerves. Weird right, because they’ve sat through hours of tattooing! We can assure you that getting a permanent tattoo is WAY more painful than anything an acupuncturist can dish out.
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 us know. We’ll put you right at ease — and maybe even right to sleep!
How long will my appointment take?
Once the needles are in, most people “acu-nap” from 45 to 60 minutes. Ah, bliss!
The needles need to be kept in for a minimum of 30 minutes. This is what we TCMers call a complete cycle. Thirty minutes gives the brain time to check in with each and every needle and help them jumpstart your inner healer.
For your first treatment, give yourself about an hour and 20 minutes — time for a thorough consult and a nice, gentle, slo-mo departure.
What should I wear and bring for my treatment?
Wear loose, comfortable clothing that can be pulled up to expose your lower arms and legs.
Optional items to bring:
What’s happening once all the needles are in?
Let’s talk❄️SNOWGLOBES❄️ Imagine shaking up a snowglobe and watching the snow fall on the little world inside it. Got that?
Okay, let’s say your body is the snowglobe and the world inside is your muscles, memory cells, and neurons. Balance-method acupuncture sends a message to your brain that its world is being turned upside down.
After this inner world gets shaken up, its tendency is to fall back into its old pattern. But the treatment has cleared away the sludge to allow for new patterns to form.
In other words, acupuncture starts carving new paths for your inner snow! 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.
Why don’t you put the needles where I hurt?
We get asked questions like this a lot: “My back hurts, why are you putting acupuncture needles in my hand?”
Here at the Village we practice a style of acupuncture called the Balance method. We tap into your body’s energy superhighways (called meridians or channels) to cause change somewhere else. So you might show up with a sore lower back and get shockingly immediate relief when we treat your hands.
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, we use an acupuncture point on your hand to relieve pain in your low back. By treating areas that are opposite and distant, we change how energy moves in the area of pain or illness. The points we needle are like switches we turn on to get your body back into balance.
This is different from traditional acupuncture, which treats the location of the pain. But with the Balance method, we 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.
We studied really hard to figure that out!
During my treatment, how do I know the acupuncture is “working”?
Where to begin?! During your treatment, here are some things to watch for. They all indicate that the needles are doing their job.
What parts of the body do you usually put needles in?
At the Village, we mostly use points on your head and ears, and below your elbows and knees. No need to take your clothes off. Just dress comfy in shirts and pants that can easily roll up to your elbows and knees, and let us send you off to acu-nap-bliss-land.
Why don’t we lay you down face 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, we will not be needling directly into your pain because we don’t believe you have to spank the crying baby to shift the pain!
I’m fidgety at the best of times, how do you expect me to lie perfectly still?
Lucky for you we 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. We are inserting very fine, flexible needles. We are 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 reading a book while your needles are in, let us know and we’ll guide you.
What if I don’t know how to relax?
First of all, join the club. And second, there’s no better way than Balance method acupuncture to experience deeply pleasurable, restorative relaxation.
Why is relaxation 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, or freeze” 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.
Any of that sound familiar? We’re here to help. Book yourself in for an appointment immediately. Even if you suck at relaxing, we’ll send you off for the “acu-nap” of your dreams!
Can I read?
Yes, by all means, bring a book. Let us know you want to read and we will position the needles as best we can.
Can I go on my phone?
And by that, we mean absolutely not. The whole point of coming in for a treatment is to step away from swiping for instant gratification and compulsively replying to work emails.
So NO. BUT you’re more than welcome to listen to a podcast, book, music, or a meditation. That we always encourage!
Are your needles as big as hypodermics and other needles I’ve been poked with?
Very likely, NO.
In fact, the size of needles we use in our clinic is one of our most exciting FUN FACTS.
It’s natural to feel anxious about being poked with giant, painful needles. But that’s not going to happen at the Village. Our teeny tiny needles are a similar width to your hair! Yup, go ahead, take a look at a strand of hair and you’ve got the idea. We can fit anywhere from 20 to 30 of our needles into the width of a hypodermic needle. Talk about good news. So, if fear of needles has been preventing you from trying acupuncture, make an appointment, and we promise to be gentle!
I thought acupuncture needles were rigid, but yours are flexible. What’s with that?
Yes, many people expect something more like sewing needles, but ours are extremely fine — the width of a hair! — and kinda bendy.
This flexibility fascinates us too! It allows us to quickly and (usually) painlessly set the needles in place, and frees you up to shift position with no discomfort.
Is it true that people fall asleep with needles in?
YES, all the time! We call this an “acu-nap” and once you’ve experienced it, you’ll want more. What’s happening is your nervous system ramps down and sends you into “rest and digest” mode, which is where the healing happens.
What can it help with? What does acupuncture treat? How do I know if I need acupuncture?
The short answer, Everything. The long answers, well we treat everything, and if we can’t we know just who to refer you to. Acupuncture is often known for treating pain, and that is often what brings people to us, but in a typical day at The Village we treat, 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. Then it can go so much deeper, need motivation, focus, concentration, strength to stand up in a difficult situation, relationship clarity, support just being human, honestly, you name it, we treat it.
Is there anyone who should NOT get acupuncture?
We haven’t met them yet. After scouring the interweb and other sources, we’ve not found any contraindications, other than warnings against things we would NEVER do, like stimulating labour in early pregnancy.
Age is certainly not a limitation. Our youngest patient was 11 days old, and our oldest was 95 years old.
What conditions do we treat? Well, whatever your specific issues, they are situated in your whole body and mind, and THAT’S what we treat. Not just parts, pains, symptoms, or diseases, but the WHOLE SHEBANG. No matter the specifics of your problem, we can help strengthen your whole body-mind ecosystem.
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 us an email and ask. We’ll be happy to get back to you within 48 hours.
How the heck can you do acupuncture online?
Button power, baby! We’ll send you our acu-buttons, little round band aids that have a teeny tiny acupressure stimulator. During your online session, we’ll show you how to apply the buttons to enhance your inner healer.
Here’s how it works:
Will my insurance cover telehealth?
The only way to be sure is to call your insurance company and ask them before you book.
And good luck with that. We’ve spent many hours trying to contact all the major insurance companies only to be met with hangups and confusion.
We’d love to answer this question, but it’s a big unknown right now. We’re hoping this pandemic will increase coverage for telemedicine.
UPDATE! Score one for SUNLIFE, they are accepting traditional chinese medicine/acupuncture telemedicine.
Does online acupuncture really work?
Damn right, it works. We wouldn’t offer this service if we didn’t believe in it. We use the same techniques that clients have found so effective in the clinic.
We don’t like to brag, but we really know how to push your buttons. Your super-healing acu-buttons, that is.
And, while you’re in self-isolation, we want to listen to you, support you, and surround you with our loving attention. We really are in this together.
How do we meet?
We’ll have an intimate face-to-face video chat online, from the safety and comfort of our homes. We’re the same caring practitioners you’ve come to know and trust in the clinic. (Well, maybe our hair is longer.) This is your chance to get our complete and loving attention, with no distractions, for a full 20 minutes.
Do I need a computer?
YES, you need a desktop or laptop computer to access your video appointment (plus CHROME browser).
The cell phone/tablet version is in development, but not quite ready. If your computer is a dinosaur, try and borrow a newer (and freshly sanitized) one from friends or family.
How do I pay?
Payment is easy-peasy. Just book your appointment and you’ll be automatically taken to a screen where you can pay with your credit card. Once we receive your payment, we’ll mail out your acu-buttons and other supplies.
Why do I have to pay upfront?
Two reasons. First, once you book, we’ll be mailing supplies to you, which is an upfront cost for us. Second, your appointment time is YOURS alone; it will no longer be available for others to book. We’re happy to reschedule an appointment if you give us at least 24 hours notice.
Do I need special supplies for my treatment?
Yes, we will mail you a set of acu-buttons/ear seeds/other tools after you book your appointment. It’s very important that your profile includes your current mailing address. Please check and update.
What if my acu-buttons don’t arrive before my appointment?
Virtual acupuncture sessions depend on our amazing postal workers getting supplies to you in time. But don’t worry, if your buttons haven’t arrived in the mail by the day before your appointment, we’ll be flexible. Just shoot us an email and we’ll move your appointment.
Applying the acu-buttons makes me nervous. How do I do it?
Don’t worry, we’ll show you! We’ll be on video together, so we can watch what you’re doing. We’ll guide you through the whole process, from opening the packages to applying the acu-buttons in the right places.
Trust us, we’re REALLY good at talking you through this.
Do the buttons hurt?
NO, it’s a lot like putting on a sticker. Sure, you might feel a little pressure when you press it onto your skin, but no biggie.
And just to put your mind at ease, the acu-buttons do NOT break the dermis layer of the skin, so there is NO risk of infection.
What if I put the acu-buttons on wrong?
We hear this fear loud and clear, but our method is foolproof. You really can’t do it wrong. We’ll ask you to press on a very specific area in search of a tender spot. You’ll know it when you find it, we promise.
Then, we’ll guide you to open the package and place the acu-button. Poof, just like that.
If the idea of the acu-buttons really, truly freaks you out, just tell us in a “NOTE” under your treatment option that you DO NOT want the buttons.
We’ve got a great alternative: EAR SEEDS. Read about them in the next question.
What are ear seeds?
Ear seeds are teeny tiny seeds the size of mustard seeds that are stuck onto a small bandaid. Then placed outside of your ear. Outer part of the ear. You can’t mess these up! The tricky part is applying them to your ears, since it’s hard to see your own ears.
What you’ll need is either tweezers and a mirror or an extra set of hands. We can do this together, no problem!
How long should I leave the acu-buttons on?
Usually 1 to 3 days, but it depends on what we’re treating you for. We’ll tell you what we think might be best, but here’s the truth: YOU are the boss of your body. If at any time the buttons are tripping you out or starting to fall off or get dirty, take them off, place them on a cotton ball and put them in the garbage.
Can I get the buttons wet?
Yes, you can bathe and shower with the acu-buttons on, though the more you get them wet, the faster they’ll come off. We won’t have you put them on high-traffic wash zones like your hands. ‘Cause let’s not forget to ALWAYS wash our hands!
What’s your cancellation policy?
We get it, stuff comes up. We can be flexible, but we do require at least 24 hours notice if you can’t make your appointment. Please reschedule at your earliest convenience. If something comes up within 24 hours of your appointment, please shoot us an email to reschedule.
How will my appointment work if I have “coworkers” (aka kids, pups, etc.) at home with me?
Two options here. One is to schedule your appointment for when you can hand off the kids. And yes, we know that’s not always possible (and if you do manage to get creative with this, we’d love to hear about it).
The second option is to have them join in. We love kids. In fact, we have “co-workers” 😉 of our own!
Do I have to live in Vancouver to book an appointment?
Heck, no. But you do have to live either in BC or Ontario. Sara Ward, Lisa Matsuzaki and Karolina Kluska are all registered to practice in BC. Tara Akuna holds dual licences, in BC and Ontario, and she’s seeing her current patients.