Acupuncture FAQ

Q.What is acupuncture?
A.Acupuncture is considered one of the oldest and most commonly used medical procedures in the world. It originates from China. Its intention is to alleviate pain and to encourage overall good health.
Q.Will acupuncture needles hurt?
A.Some people describe the insertion of the needle into the skin as a brief sensation of light pressure or a slight pinch. When the acupuncture point is stimulated you may feel a mild tingling, heaviness, warmth or deep dull ache around the needle. This is the sensation of Qi moving and most people consider it enjoyable and relaxing.
Q.How will I feel after treatment?
A.The treatment lasts between 30 and 40 minutes during which time you will rest and relax -  some people like to wait a little after the needles have been removed. Even though you may feel a little tired at first, you can expect to feel less pain, more energy and a general sense of well-being after treatment.
Q.Is there space / time to rest after an acupuncture treatment?
A.If you need more time after the treatment, you can use our tranquil waiting room/reception area until you feel ready to leave.
Q.Should I drive after treatment?
A.That's entirely up to you. Your reactions will not be impaired in any way so you should be able to drive safely.
Q.Do I need to rest after treatment?
A.It is a good idea to take it easy for a few hours after treatment to allow it to take full effect.
Q.Can I exercise after treatment?
A.Yes but a period of rest is advisable for a few hours after treatment.
Q.Do I need to drink more fluids after acupuncture?
A.No. Just eat and drink as normal.
Q.Which conditions is acupuncture most suitable for?
A.It is eminently suitable to treat all painful conditions (neck, back, headaches, limb pain etc), pregnancy disorders, viral and post viral illnesses, digestive complaints, anxiety and insomnia. The WHO has recommended acupuncture as a treatment for an extensive list of conditions. Please check the Acupuncture page for more details.
Q.Can anyone have acupuncture?
A.Yes, it is suitable for people of all ages and dispositions, including babies, pregnant women and the elderly.
Q.I'm scared of needles — does that mean I can't have acupuncture?
A.No — most people tolerate acupuncture needles very well. They are extremely fine and are hardly felt at all.
Q.Are the needles safe?
A.The needles we use are sterile, single use disposable needles.
Q.Are there any contraindications for acupuncture?
A.Only very rarely. For instance, if there is arm swelling following lymph node removal for breast cancer, that arm should not be needled.
Your practitioner will ask for relevant details while taking your case history so please discuss any concerns with him/her.
Q.Can acupuncture cause an allergic reaction?
A.No. Very rarely a patient may feel faint but this is not a true allergic reaction.
Q.Can I have acupuncture if I am pregnant?
A.Yes, but do let your practitioner know. Acupuncture may even be beneficial as it can treat many disorders of pregnancy. It can for instance be used to turn a breech presentation or to induce labour.
Q.Can acupuncture increase my chances of getting pregnant?
A.There is increasing evidence to support acupuncture increasing natural fertility and assisted fertility. Read our patient testimonials on fertility as well as our Research articles.
Q.Can I have acupuncture if I have a cold/flu?
A.Yes, in fact it may well be beneficial.  Acupuncture stimulates the immune system and may increase your resistance to viral or bacterial infection.
Q.How long will an appointment last?
A.An average session lasts around 40 minutes.
Q.How many treatments will I need?
A.This depends on what condition is being treated and will be discussed at your first appointment. Treatments can vary from one week to several months but as the condition improves, treatments will become less frequent.
Q.What should I expect from my first visit?
A.First appointments will be scheduled slightly longer than subsequent visits to allow the practitioner to take a full medical history. This is followed by Chinese tongue and pulse examination, a physical examination where required and a discussion on prognosis and the most appropriate course of treatment. At the end you will have your first treatment if required.
Q.Do I need to prepare in any way for my first consultation?
A.Bring a list of medications and copies of blood test results, x rays or scans if relevant and wear comfortable clothing.
Q.Do I need to undress for the treatment?
A.The affected body parts will have to be exposed but usually you do not need to fully undress.
Q.Are there any medications/supplements that are incompatible with acupuncture treatment?
A.No.
Q.How many needles are used in a typical treatment?
A.Most practitioners will normally use between 6-8 needles.
Q.Does the practitioner use other techniques during treatment?
A.It depends on the practitioner. Some will use massage or manipulation techniques, some like to apply heat or extra stimulation of the needles to increase the strength and efficacy of the treatment.
Q.What is moxa or moxibustion?
A.This is a traditional method where an acupuncture point gets additional stimulation through the application of heat. This happens by holding a burning stick of moxa (a roll of the herb Mugwort) near the treated area.
Most people consider this to be very soothing.
Q.What is cupping?
A.Cupping is a traditional treatment to cure acute pain. It involves placing a spherical glass cup onto the area to be treated after a vacuum has been created inside it. This process can give deep down relief to hard to reach muscular pain.
Q.Can I request a female practitioner?
A.Yes — here at Avicenna we have both male and female practitioners who treat general conditions as well as more complicated ones.
Our receptionist can advise who to book with or you could take a look at the individual biographies to get a feel for which practitioner might be right for you and your health condition.
Q.Can I claim back the cost of treatment from my health insurance policy?
A.Some companies will reimburse the cost of treatment — please check with your own healthcare provider before starting treatment.