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Acupuncture Patient Information

Please read this information carefully, and ask your acupuncturist if there is anything that you do not understand. 

What is acupuncture?


Acupuncture is a form of therapy in which needles are inserted into specific points on the body. It’s use dates back thousands of years; “classical” acupuncture was developed in China, but now is used increasingly in modern medicine worldwide. 

How does acupuncture work?


Acupuncture stimulates the body to produce its own pain relieving chemicals or “endorphins”. These help block pathways that relay pain messages from the body to the brain, resulting in relief of pain, general relaxation and biochemical restoration of the body’s own internal regulation systems. The resultant improved biochemical balance stimulates the body’s natural healing abilities, reduces inflammation, and promotes physical and emotional well-being. 

Is acupuncture safe?


Acupuncture is generally very safe with very few side effects. 

Single-use, sterile, disposable needles are used, so there is no possibility of transmission of blood-borne viruses.

Does acupuncture have side effects?


There are very few adverse effects or complications that arise from the use of acupuncture.

Most patients find that the treatments are relaxing and cause minimal discomfort.

You may however experience;

  • Drowsiness occurs after treatment in a small number of patients, and if affected you are advised not to drive;

  • Minor bleeding or bruising occurs after acupuncture in about 3% of treatments;

  • Muscle twitching during or following acupuncture in about 3% of treatments;

  • Local pain from needling occurs after acupuncture in about 2% of treatments;

  • Existing symptoms may become worse before they improve for 1-2 days following treatment (less than 3% of patients). This is usually a good sign. Please advise your acupuncturist if worsening of symptoms continues for more than 2 days;

  • Fainting can occur in certain patients, particularly at the first treatment.

Is there anything your acupuncturist needs to know?


Apart from the usual medical details, it is important that you let your acupuncturist know:

  • If you have any pre-existing medical condition;

  • You are, or there is any possibility that you could be pregnant

  • If you have ever experienced dizziness, faintness or seizures;

  • If you have a pacemaker or any other electrical implants;

  • You are a haemophiliac;

  • If you are taking anti-coagulant medication (blood-thinners) or any other medication.

  • If you have damaged heart valves or have any other particular risk of infection.

  • If you have any allergies (metal allergy).


Does it hurt?


Most patients only feel minimal discomfort as the needles are inserted; some feel no pain at all; once the needles are in place, there should be no significant discomfort; a dull ache may be felt around the site. Acupuncture needles are extremely thin – 2 or 3 acupuncture needles would fit inside the barrel of a regular hollow needle used for injections. 

What to do before an acupuncture treatment?


  • Have a light meal or snack within 2 hours before treatment.

  • Take no alcohol, barbiturate or tranquilizer for 4 hours before treatment

  • Do not smoke tobacco for 1 hour before treatment

  • Continue to take all medications as prescribed by your doctor

  • Be well-rested, if possible

  • It is wise to arrange for an escort to accompany you home after your first appointment in case the treatment makes you feel sleepy or light-headed.

What to do after an acupuncture treatment?


  • Rest for 2 hours, if possible

  • If the treatment is for a painful condition, avoid strenuous activity for 2 days after treatment, even if you are pain free.

  • Continue to take medications as prescribed by your doctor

  • Do not take any alcohol or caffeine for 2 hours after treatment

  • Do not smoke tobacco for 1 hour after treatment 

What to expect from treatment?


The number of treatments will vary with each person and the condition being treated. Relief may be noticed immediately, some notice improvement within a few hours, or after a few days; some may not respond to acupuncture. Occasionally symptoms become worse before they improve. For conditions of recent onset, few treatments are usually required; longstanding conditions may require 1-2 treatments a week for several sessions before improvement is noticed.


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